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The retina is one of the earliest body parts to develop- it forms from part of the earliest version of the neural tube, which will become the spinal cord,brain, nervous system. Eyes are amazing.
So what the retina does is take in light and converts it to an electrical signal that the brain receives and interprets as vision. When retinal dysplasia is the diagnosis, it means that the very early development of the retina was not successful and folds resulted from the layers not adhering correctly embryologically. The neural tube- also amazing. Retinal folds are congenital, they are there at birth - actually before birth- and they do not get worse to my knowledge. The condition causes small areas of blindness most likely... most breeds do NOT list it as a B/O because the it does tend to follow a genetically determined heritability but Golden Retrievers still have it listed as a Breeder's Option, which usually means it is not thought to be genetic in origin. My guess on that is most neural tube defects are not genetic, so it was lumped in with all the others. For instance, the tendency to have clefts is not something you'd consider genetic- or the tendency to have black spot phenomenon- but retinal dysplasia does seem (to me) to run in pedigrees, so perhaps the tendency for the very primitive neural tube not to form the retina correctly is genetic. It's something like any other B/O to study carefully, be sure you are ok with the condition before buying something that comes from a dog with it ,because you might get it. Most B/O are nothing to worry about otoh.
 

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I will add my limited knowledge to the retinal folds, dysplasia, detachment conversation. I have an 8 year old that has retinal dysplasia, that is one step beyond retinal folds. She was diagnosed at 8 weeks of age and the concern was it could progress to retinal detachment which would mean there would be no vision at all in that eye. I was told that it could progress up till she was about 1 year of age so we did several eye clinics that first year to track it's development. Fortunately it stabilized by the age of 9 months. She has what is best described as an island of blindness in a sea of vision in that eye. So from my experience i would think it might be possible for folds to progress similarly during that first year. The other thing I have had folds be present one year and not there another. this is the same dog and it was the other eye. It was also the same ophthalmologist who did and then did not see the folds. And every time her eyes are check I have all the previous exam papers with me as a reference. So I know they can be difficult at times to even detect. A couple of others in the same litter also have been diagnosed with folds.
Lastly even with the retinal dysplasia she has NEVER experienced any quality of life issues. She has had a rather active life with doing obedience, field and nose work.
 

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Lots of great posts in this thread, and at 18 pages of comments it's obviously a great concern and a terrible disease.
Just wanted to post some links to good information about the disease:


Pigmentary Uveitis in Golden Retrievers - Eye Care for Animals - Eye Care for Animals


Golden Retriever Pigmentary Uveitis @ Animal Eye Care


Searching GRCA website for "Uveitis" gives this list of 9 links:


https://www.grca.org/?s=uveitis


GRCA "Intro to PU" (last updated 2013)
https://www.grca.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/IntroPigmentaryUveitis.pdf


GRCA re importance of eye screening in ALL Goldens
http://grca.dcwdhost.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/PigmentaryUveitisLettertoOwners.pdf


Human Uveitis page, but has a nice diagram and explanation of the anatomy and parts involved:
https://nei.nih.gov/health/uveitis/uveitis


Apologizing if all those links add up to "TMI"
 
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