As with many Brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds with prominent eyes, the Boston Terrier unfortunately suffers from a number of eye problems. Some are less severe than others, though all require prompt veterinary attention. If you are considering the addition of a Boston Terrier to your family, you must be willing to devote time to regularly checking the health of your dog's eyes and bringing him or her for regular visits to the vet. Some of the more common eye conditions that can develop in Boston Terriers are cataracts and corneal ulcers, the latter usually in conjunction with corneal dystrophy.
The eye is a very delicate organ made up of a number of parts that all function together in order to permit clear vision. The lens of the eye is a clear structure that has the job of focusing incoming light onto the retina of the eye, which in turn has the job of converting the light stimuli to nerve impulses to be sent to the brain and interpreted. The lens of the eye must obviously be clear to function properly; a cataract is an area of the lens that has become opaque and which can no longer properly transmit light. This happens because there is a breakdown in the biochemical system that maintains the proper water and protein balance in the lens.
Some cataracts are small and do not cause any vision problems, while others are larger and can interfere with vision. A cataract is usually slow to develop, but if left untreated may lead to blindness; it can also cause inflammation and the rupturing of the lens covering. Cataracts are treated by surgery; the cataract is emulsified and removed, and often the entire lens is removed as well. In this case, a replacement lens, which is artificial, is put in place of the old lens. Vision is near normal following surgery, though it can never be perfect due to some amount of scarring and the difficulty of exactly replacing the lens.
Boston Terriers also suffer from the presence of corneal ulcers, in which the outer layer of the cornea is lost; there can be a significant amount of inflammation associated with an ulcer. The cornea is a structure of the outermost part of the eye and damage to it can be very painful. While corneal ulcers can occur in all dog species due to things like infections or trauma, in many dogs, including the Boston Terrier, ulcers are a result of an inherited condition called corneal dystrophy. In Boston Terriers, corneal dystrophy leads to the rapid development of ulcers and opacities that often lead to blindness. The corneal ulcers are caused by fluid buildup that first turns the cornea opaque and then causes its outer layer to peel off. Depending on the nature of the ulcer, treatment may simply involve topical antibiotics and pain medications or surgical suturing, grafts, even a corneal transplant. In corneal dystrophy, however, even if ulcers and opacities are treated with surgery, they often re-form.