Jack Russell Eye Disorders

jack russell eye disorders

Eyes are vital for a Jack Russell Terrier’s well-being. If he has problems with his eyes he can become very grumpy. He will not be able to see around him easily and can trip up over unseen obstacles, and may even start getting scared of his own shadow.

Luckily, most Jack Russell Terrier eye disorders can be treated, and having knowledge of these eye disorders can certainly help you identify them and take appropriate action should you notice that your Jack Russell is having eye problems.

Join me as I take a look.

Jack Russell Terrier eye problems

Below we will look at some of the different conditions that seem to plague the breed.

1. Primary Lens Luxation

The lens inside the eye is what focuses the light onto the retina. It is held in place with a ligament, which if damaged can lead to the lens becoming dislodged and moving behind the iris. The condition doesn’t harm a dog’s vision, but it can cause problems when they try to breed.

2. Glaucoma

Glaucoma is when there is increased pressure inside the eye. The increased pressure stops the fluid from flowing properly and can lead to blindness. Glaucoma normally occurs in older dogs and it affects both eyes at the same time. A vet will be able to determine if your dog has glaucoma by testing his eyes.

3. Cataracts

A cataract is a cloudiness that can occur in the lens of the eye, which affects a dog’s vision. The cloudiness also means that light doesn’t properly reflect onto the retina. A cataract is more common in older dogs and can affect both eyes at once or one eye at a time.

Although it is not life-threatening, it can make your dog very short-sighted and lead to him bumping into things easily if you don’t take extra care of him.

4. Corneal Dystrophy

Corneal dystrophy, technically known as congenital corneal lipidosis, refers to an abnormality in the lipid layer of the dog’s eye. The eye becomes dry, and painful ulcers may develop within 24 hours. If left untreated, the cornea can become almost completely eroded.

5. Entropion

Entropion occurs when a dog’s eyelids are inverted and the eyelashes rub against the cornea. It is common in wire-haired Jack Russells but can occur in short-haired breeds as well. Initially, entropion affects only one eye, but the problem tends to progress to both eyes. It can lead to serious complications if left untreated including blindness.

6. Distichiasis

Distichiasis is when a Jack Russell has extra eyelashes. The condition is usually harmless, but the extra lashes can irritate the eye and sometimes cause inflammation. This irritation often causes discomfort and your Jack Russell may squint a lot or rub his eyes.

Caring for your Jack Russell’s Eyes

We have covered a number of different eye problems that can affect your Jack Russell Terrier, but one important thing we haven’t looked at is how often you should be checking on the health of his eyes.

The fact is, there are a number of routine steps you can take to make sure his eyes are healthy and functioning properly. We will look at those as well.

1. Check That the Eyes Are Clear

Some eye problems will be obvious to anyone who looks directly into your dog’s eyes. If there is something in his eye or if his eyes are red, it will be immediately obvious.

2. Check his eyes regularly

Ideally, you should examine his eyes on a regular basis, but once a week is a bare minimum.

3. Cataracts

As we have already mentioned, cataracts can be very painful for your dog, and he may even start bumping into things. You should look out for cloudiness in his eyes if you think that there is a problem.

If you notice anything unusual about your dog’s eyes, it is always best to get a professional opinion on exactly what the problem is. Your vet will be able to work out if there is an underlying problem and then recommend treatment.

Can Jack Russells go blind?

Yes, Jack Russell Terriers can go blind. Glaucoma, an eye condition that affects Jack Russell Terriers and people too, is an extremely painful disease that rapidly leads to blindness if left untreated. Early treatment can prevent vision loss through the use of eye drops or surgery.

At what age can Jack Russells develop eye disorders?

Some eye disorders can occur at any age, but most are fairly common in senior dogs. You should examine your dog’s eyes on a frequent basis so that you can catch any problems before they get too serious. The earlier the treatment, the better the outcome.

Are Jack Russell dogs prone to eye problems?

Jack Russells are prone to many of the same eye conditions that occur in other breeds. However, it is important to note that they are particularly prone to Glaucoma.


The eyes are one of the most important things a dog has in terms of its health and this is especially true of a Jack Russell Terrier. A Jack Russell may not be able to see very well if his eyes are not being looked after, and this can lead to a very grumpy dog.

This can cause problems further on in the dog’s life as it will be scared of new places, people, animals, and so on as they may not be able to see them clearly. It is therefore very important that Jack Russell owners take care of their dog’s eyes.

Many canine health problems can be caught early and easily prevented or treated when a thorough examination of your dog is performed by a veterinary professional.

A few simple tests used by veterinarians, in combination with an obvious problem, can help with the early detection of a number of critical eye conditions.


  • Jan Pretorius

    Meet Jan Pretorius, the passionate dog lover and proud owner of the popular canine haven, JackRussellTerrierDog.com. Born and raised in a small town known for its love of animals, Jan’s journey into the world of dogs began at a young age, fueled by an innate connection with our four-legged companions.