WHAT CAN DOGS SEE? By Dr. James Ivanoski, Optometrist at Madison Medical Eye Care with offices in Mequon & Saukville, Wisconsin
No, we have not added animals to our practice but patients occasionally mention eye problems their dogs are having and wonder how their pet’s vision differs from theirs. Dogs generally don’t see as well as humans under normal lighting situations but instead have special adaptations for night vision and improved side vision.
Perfect human vision is noted as 20/20. The best dogs can do is 20/40 (several lines up on the eye chart). Many older dogs develop cataracts, causing a whitening of their pupil, which can make their vision much worse. With their keen sense of smell and hearing, however, they adapt quite well. On rare occasions cataract surgery is recommended for dogs.
Dogs do have some color perception but it is not as acute as in humans. The “cones” are the color receptors in the center of the eye. The center part of the human eye is 100% cones compared to only 20% cones found in dogs. Behavioral tests show that dogs can distinguish reds from blues but often confuse greens and reds.
You may have noticed when you shine a light in a dog’s eye that you see a bright blue/green color instead of the red noted with humans. That is because dogs have a reflective coating in the back of the eye called a tapetum which serves to improve night vision. Another difference from humans is that dog’s eyes are generally more on the sides of their heads (unlike forward positioning in humans) which improves their peripheral vision.
No, we have not gone to the dogs at Madison Medical Eye Care but now you and your pet can see eye-to-eye! Do call us, however, if any of your two legged family members experience vision or eye problems.
Dr. James Ivanoski practices Optometry at Madison Medical Eye Care in association with Dr. Martha Jay, an Ophthalmologist. He accepts patients of all ages into his practice and is on the panel of most insurance plans.
For more eye care information, call 262-241-1919 or visit www.MadisonMedicalEyeCare.com.