Chesapeake Bay Retriever Research Study Cataracts & PRA ~ Samples Needed

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Research Study Cataracts & PRA ~ Samples Needed

Preacher is entered into the study.

From Jane Pappler of the American Chesapeake Club: Research Samples Needed for Triangular Cataracts (also PRA). I spoke recently with Dr Gustavo Aguirre from the University of Penn in Philadelphia. He would be grateful to have owners submit samples from their Chesapeakes for the current study going on for Triangular Cataracts. He is associated with Optigen at Cornell and they are doing updated research now on Goldens, Labs and want to include Chesapeakes. I told him I would publish info for him asking for submissions as soon as possible. He would like to have at least 20 affected dogs and more for the study.

From Optigen’s website:


Special Note To Veterinary Ophthalmologists


Who qualifies? Any purebred dog that has been examined by a board certified veterinary ophthalmologist (ACVO, ECVO) and that has been diagnosed with PRA is eligible for review for possible inclusion in the Free Testing program. Status of “PRA suspicious” or “atypical PRA” does not qualify.

Here’s how it works:

1. You mail, email, or fax a copy of the eye exam report (CERF report or other) plus a copy of a 4-5 generation pedigree for PRE-APPROVAL before sending a blood sample. If possible, provide an email address for a reply.

2. Wait for a response from OptiGen to learn if your dog has a diagnosis that qualifies for free testing.

3. Once you’ve received the PRE-APPROVAL notification from OptiGen, send a blood sample – at least 3 ml of unclotted blood – according to standard instructions (Ship Sample).
Cheek swab samples are not suitable for most research purposes; a blood sample is greatly preferred. Print out and complete all details of the standard Request Test form (ignore any payment questions). Send this order form with the notation “Approved for Research” clearly printed on the first page.  Including a copy of email correspondence noting the prior approval by OptiGen is helpful.

What happens next?

OptiGen will test the sample from your PRA affected dog for the known and/or likely causes of the disease in that breed.  For those samples that represent breeds where no PRA mutations have yet been identified, personal communications on test results will be issued from OptiGen as the research is conducted.  OptiGen frequently relies on the expertise of two veterinary ophthalmologists, Dr. Gustavo Aguirre at the University of Pennsylvania and Dr. Gregory Acland at Cornell University. With the assistance of their consultations and academic research efforts, OptiGen strives to help advance the understanding of inherited eye diseases in dogs.


Modeled on our PRA research program, these projects are aimed at identifying the genes and mutations responsible for specific cataracts found in certain breeds.  There are manytypes of cataracts but we are studying only 2 types at this time: 

  • Bilateral, Posterior Subcapsular type that develops between 1.5 yrs and 3 yrs of age in the following breeds: Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Rottweilers, Bernese Mountain Dogsand English Springer Spaniels
  • Bilateral Posterior Cortical type that develops between 1 yr. and 3 yrs of age in the Siberian Husky, Samoyed and the Alaskan Malamute
  • Bilateral Anterior Cortical Cataracts that develop between 3 yrs and 4 yrs of age in the American Cocker Spaniel.  These cataracts tend to progress with age.  Because of the high variability in cataract type, it is preferred that all dogs involved in this project have been examined by Dr. Gustavo Aguirre.The 3 steps for submitting cataract samples for research are the same as those for submitting PRA research samples (as described above). Here is the link they sent me for the form for the Cataract study. 

Please email Jane Pappler from the American Chesapeake Club later how many dogs you are sending samples for as the Dr. wants her to keep a ruff count of participation. This is very important for our breed towards having a DNA test for cataracts so please help if possible. Thanks. Jane Pappler


If you have been following along with SS you know that Preacher was diagnosed with Cataracts at 8 months of age. This cropped up out of no where’s as all the dogs in her pedigree were CERF’ed clear. When I found out they were looking for research samples from dogs with triangular cataracts I got on the computer and sent an email to Optigen right away along with her CERF exam and pedigree. Preacher got accepted into the study. Since they are looking for samples from the affected dogs parents and if any clear or affected siblings I was able to send them three additional samples. I send in blood from Preachers Mom and blood from two of her siblings that CERF’ed clear. Preachers dad’s owner will be submitting samples as well.

Like Jane said this is very important for the Chesapeakes and hopefully with this research study they can find a link to cataracts and develop a DNA test.


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