When boisterous four-year-old Giant Schnauzer Roxy leapt into the lives of Erica and John Redmond, she quickly found a big place in their hearts.
But love turned to despair three years later when Roxy’s sight started to deteriorate very quickly, with her fun personality fading away alongside it.
One day, when she was out on a walk, she accidentally ploughed into her owner, John, while running at full pelt. Roxy was also no longer the first to catch a ball when thrown. Her sight problems became much more life-threatening as she carelessly wandered off a low promenade wall.
After an immediate appointment with the vet, it seemed like it an eye infection, but if she got any worse, it was advised Roxy should be referred to an eye specialist for further tests.
The next day, Roxy narrowly missed walking into a tree and that night, she was bumping into furniture. Seriously concerned that her sight was worsening, Erica and John asked their vet to make an appointment at the Animal Health Trust (AHT).
Erica said: “We were very confident this was the right way forward for Roxy. Renata Stavinohova, one of the ophthalmologists (eye specialists) there, asked us lots of questions; for instance: Had she eaten anything unusual? Does she drink a lot? Has she had any recent trauma? Has she ever been abroad?
“We answered as best we could, then Renata examined Roxy’s eyes and found severe inflammation and that both of Roxy’s retinas were detached. Renata confirmed our worst fears: Roxy was blind in both eyes.”
Roxy was kept in for close monitoring and so that the AHT could start tests straight away to try to find a cause, or to at least eliminate possible causes so that the best treatment plan could be determined.
Most tests came back negative and in most cases like Roxy’s, no underlying cause is ever found. Therefore, the conclusion was drawn that Roxy’s problems were most likely caused by a reaction from her immune system, and she was started on a course of steroid tablets and eye drops to stop suppress the immune response that was attacking her eyes.
Soon Roxy was ready to be discharged to continue her medication at home. Kelly, the veterinary ophthalmology nurse, prepared a medication chart for Erica and John to follow and spent time making sure they were comfortable administering the eye drops.
Determined to give Roxy as much care and support as they possibly could, Erica and John set about making some adjustments around the house. This included bubble wrapping furniture so Roxy couldn’t bump into it and they also sprayed perfume to sign post doorways so she could more easily navigate her way around.
Two weeks later, Roxy was back to the AHT to be re-examined. Although the inflammation had slightly improved, Roxy’s retinas were still detached and Roxy was still blind in both eyes. Renata and her supervisor, James Oliver, decided to alter Roxy’s medication.
And then the incredible happened.
“Within a few days we were convinced she could see a little,” said Erica. “The clues couldn’t all be due to her other senses being heightened. Walking down the road, she saw a man approaching from 50 yards and barked at him! Another time we thought she ‘saw’ children walk across her vision about 100 yards away, her head moving as they did! We excitedly emailed Renata to tell her the good news, who was pleased, but wanted to see for herself!
“On her next appointment, Renata couldn’t stop smiling with amazement! Roxy reacted to vision tests positively, not just the left eye, but the right eye too! Proof she could see again!” added Erica.
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