Retinal lesions similar to those in human early-stage diabetic retinopathy have been reported to occur in dogs fed galactose for long periods. Investigations of retinal changes, however, have been limited to studies of the intact retinal vasculature isolated by trypsin digestion.
To document the onset and progression of retinal lesions in galactose-fed dogs by the common clinical techniques of fundus color photography and fluorescein angiography.
Fourteen 6-month-old male beagles made aphakic in 1 eye were divided into a control group (4 dogs), receiving a diet containing 30% cellulose, and a galactosemic group (10 dogs), receiving a diet containing 30% galactose. The progression of retinal changes in these dogs was periodically monitored by color fundus photography and fluorescein angiography.
Dogs fed a 30% galactose diet for 28 to 41 months were observed by fluorescein angiography and color fundus photography to develop, in order of frequency, microaneurysms, retinal hemorrhages, intraretinal microvascular abnormalities, retinal nonperfused areas, and varicose and serpiginous veins. These findings are similar to the early clinical retinal changes observed in humans with diabetes.
These results confirm that galactosemic dogs are an appropriate and suitable animal model for investigating human diabetic retinopathy.