Eye testing is recommended especially for breeding stock. Breeders usually test their litter of puppies at about six to eight weeks old. An eye certificate is current for one year.
Ophthalmic Vets in UK perform this test which can be found in your area by viewing details on the BVA website.
The links on this BVA web page provide dates and venues of clinics and other information regarding the test.
The Soft-Coated Wheaten Club of GB occasionally hold BVA eye testing at their Fun days. Check their website for information.
Testing sessions are also advertised by Dog Societies and Clubs in the weekly Dog Press.
The following conditions have occasionally been found in Wheaten Terriers, so breeders and owners should be constantly vigilant.
The following Zoom webinar is produced by the SCWT
Club of America and SCWTCA Endowment Inc. (Zoom is not needed
to view). This webinar is on the topics of Microphthalmia and
inherited eye diseases Click
here (opens on a new page)
The small ‘folds’ are found on the retina at about 5 weeks of age to approximately 4 months. It is important for breeders to eye test their puppies between the ages of six to
eight weeks. The folds can ‘flatten out’ and may not be detected later than this. It is recommended by the SCWT Club of GB, that any puppy diagnosed as having ‘folds’ should
not be bred from.
Persistent Pupillary Membranes (PPM's):
These are remnants of a foetal structure called the pupillary membrane. This membrane covers the pupil before the puppy is born. Normally the papillary membrane is partially present
and continues to disappear as the puppy develops.
Absorption may not be complete when the puppy’s eyes first open at about 10-14 days old and a small web like structure can be seen across the pupil. This usually disappears by the
time the puppy is 4-5 weeks of age. In some breeds these strands never disappear and become PPMs.
PPM's seem to be insignificant in the Wheaten and does not appear to affect their eyesight.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
Is the name given to a group of hereditary retinal diseases in dogs. There are several classifications of the disease according to the age of onset of the diseases and the types of
retinal pathology which occur.
PRA is not painful but the loss of sight is permanent.
Wheatens have occasionally been reported with PRA. In
breeds that have been investigated in sufficient detail, the mode of inheritance appears to be a simple autosomal recessive.
PRA affects the retina (the ‘film’ in the camera). It occurs in both eyes simultaneously and results in the degeneration of the rod and cone cells in the retina.
Owners may notice their dog bump into objects, especially in a dimly lit room. This progresses to night blindness and, usually within months, a loss of daylight vision as well.
Night blindness is first noticed because the rods - the cells which allow vision in reduced light, degenerate before the cones - the cells which allow vision in bright light.
The dog will frequently have dilated pupils and the owner may notice an increased shining at the back of the eye.
Dogs with PRA can develop cataracts later as the disease progresses.
Most dogs adjust well to vision loss, they are usually happy as long as their routine is stable. It is more difficult for them if their surroundings become unfamiliar.
Microphthalmia is known as an inherited disease in Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers.
In May 2018 a new gene for canine congenital eye disease was identified by Researchers at the University of Helsinki.
The overview of this research can be viewed on this
in new page) and the full Article can be accessed on this
- opens in new page).
A document published by Paula Henthorn (Professor of Medical Genetics, University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine) summarises all recent research to provide a comprehensive report on how breeding decisions should be viewed. This three page document also provides summary points for genetic testing.
Use this link to open a pdf file on another page.
PennGen Laboratories, at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine are, from April 2020, offering genetic testing for Microphthalmia in Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers. Select this link for further details. (pdf - opens on new page.)
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Affected dogs have prominent third eyelids and small eyes which appear recessed in the eye socket (enophthalmos). A defect early in development results in the smaller than normal eye (microphthalmia).
This is often associated with other eye abnormalities, including defects of the cornea, anterior chamber, lens and/or retina. Microphthalmia is also
seen with coloboma - a cleft in a portion of the eye, particularly the iris.
The Finnish Kerry Blue and Wheaten Terrier Club have published the following article written by
Veterinary Ophthalmologist Marjukka Sarkanen, who has given her permission to reproduce this text.
The link to the pdf document of this article is here, there are images of affected Wheaten terriers, but the article is
A synopsis of this article has been translated by Mari Pakkala-Weckström as very few of the search engine translations
offer an accurate report of the Finnish language.
This translation has the second and third pages omitted, since they mainly contain specific information on how Finnish breeders should act if they
should have a litter with similar problems:
From the Breeding Committee of the Finnish Kerry Blue and Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club:
"Ocular anomalies and Microphthalmia found and reported in a Finnish SCWT litter. The puppies’ eyes seemed abnormal and the eyeballs small (see the pictures).
They were checked by an eye-specialist, who diagnosed the puppies with various ocular anomalies, e.g. micropthalmia, coloboma
and PPM (Persistent pupillary membrane).
The puppies were practically blind, and had to be put to sleep. The breeder of the litter passed the information to the Breeding Committee.
Blood samples taken from the sick puppies, their siblings and parents, were sent to the Canine Genetic Studies group led by
Prof. Hannes Lohi.
There have been rumours of similar litters in Canada, Sweden and the Netherlands. In Finland, this was the first litter brought to the attention of the Breeding Committee.
In 1995, a research article published in the Netherlands reported a similar syndrome in two closely related SCWT litters (Van der Woerdt, A. Stades, F.C, Linde-Sipman,
J.S., van der Boeve, M.H. 1995. Multiple ocular anomalies in two related litters of Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers. Veterinary and comparative ophthalmology.)
The Breeding Committee strongly recommends that all puppies should have their eyes examined, even if there are no abnormalities visible."
[the rest of the document is mainly instructions on how to proceed if something is wrong].
December 2021 - Further details of a case in the USA can be found
on SCWTCA Endowment Final Newsletter on this pdf
link (appears on Page 1)
Reporting of this and other health conditions should be submitted to the SCWTCA Endowment Health and Pedigree database.