Iridociliary cysts

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Cataract formation and uveal cysts (black spheres) in a 9-year-old Boston Terrier[1]

Iridociliary cysts (uveal cysts) are a genetic ocular disease of dogs characterized by the formation of small cysts in the eye.

These cysts can be multiple or single and usually circular spheres located in the anterior or posterior chambers. They can be adherent or free-floating and arise from the ciliary body, iridociliary sulcus or posterior iris.

Uveal cysts often develop as a congenital disease but can form secondary to ocular trauma and intraocular inflammation[2]. They slowly increase in size over time and sometimes rupture, leading to deposition of contents onto the corneal endothelium or iris.

This disease is commonly reported in the Boston Terrier, Golden Retriever[3], Great Dane and American Bulldog breeds and is a relatively rare cause of cataracts, anterior uveitis, retinal detachment and corneal pigmentation in dogs[4][5].

Uveal cysts commonly form in middle-aged to older dogs and are readily diagnosed with ophthalmoscopy after application of a mydriatic drug[6]. It is not uncommon to examine a dog with signs of cyst rupture but no other ocular abnormalities[7].

Gonioscopy should be performed regularly to monitor any changes, or signs of increased intraocular pressure and intraocular inflammation. Clinicians should exercise caution in dismissing uveal cysts in dogs as incidental findings.

Treatment usually involves surgical removal via paracentesis, sclerotomy or semiconductor diode laser coagulation[8].

Tissue samples should be assessed by histopathology to exclude other causes such as melanocytoma or iridal melanoma[9].

Recurrence is uncommon.


  1. Grahn BH et al (2012) Diagnostic ophthalmology. Can Vet J 53(3):321-322
  2. Collins KC & Moore CP (1999) Diseases and surgery of the canine anterior uvea. In: Gelatt KN, ed. Veterinary Ophthalmology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. pp:776
  3. Sapienza JS et al (2000) Golden Retriever uveitis: 75 cases (1994-1999). Vet Ophthalmol 3(4):241-246
  4. Bedford PG (1980) The anterior uveal cyst as an unusual cause of corneal pigmentation in the dog. J Small Anim Pract 21(2):97-101
  5. Pumphrey SA et al (2012) Glaucoma associated with uveal cysts and goniodysgenesis in American Bulldogs: a case series. Vet Ophthalmol Oct 30
  6. Corcoran KA & Koch SA (1993) Uveal cysts in dogs: 28 cases (1989-1991). J Am Vet Med Assoc 203(4):545-546
  7. Breaux C et al (2005) Pigment deposition on the endothelium of the left cornea and anterior face of the iris, secondary to rupture of uveal cysts, and age-related, incipient anterior and posterior cortical cataracts in both eyes. Can Vet J 46(9):845-846
  8. Gemensky-Metzler AJ et al (2004) The use of semiconductor diode laser for deflation and coagulation of anterior uveal cysts in dogs, cats and horses: a report of 20 cases. Vet Ophthalmol 7(5):360-368
  9. Delgado E et al (2010) Amelanotic uveal cyst in a Yorkshire terrier dog. Vet Ophthalmol 13(5):343-347