Many of you on Chazhound know me, but for those I haven't had the chance to meet... my name is Karen Goodale. I have a Jack Russell Terrier, Lucy that went blind overnight in September 2004 from SARDS (Suddenly Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome) at just 2 1/2 years old. SARDS is rare. Many regular vets have never seen a case in their own practice, and end up learning about SARDS along with the patient & dog owner. The vet ophthalmologist that diagnosed Lucy with SARDS at most sees only 1 or 2 cases per year. The first cases of SARDS were seen in the 1980's, but the cause of SARDS is still unproven, and is assumed to be a non-genetic condition. Researchers describe the actual mechanism of degeneration as apoptosis, or programmed cell death. When the body detects damage to a cell, the hormone cortisol crosses the cell membrane and initiates a programmed, self-destruct message. There is no treatment for SARDS, since the cones and rods in the retina are totally destroyed. The most recent studies and theories indicate that SARDS may be triggered by the modern-day lifestyle: Inappropriate nutrition, over-vaccinating, chemicals from flea prevention products, yard pesticides, home chemicals, etc. causing chronic irritation (stress) and sending the dog's system into overdrive, producing excess stress hormone. SARDS is not just an "eye disease" but is considered an autoimmune problem, with other possible other health problems. So... in trying to make this shorter... when I still have SO much I want to say! My life totally changed last September when Lucy went blind. I don't get a chance to visit here as often as I'd like (I love to just "dog chat") ... and still consider myself very much a part of the Chazhound family! I work a full-time job, plus I am a support person on a list for blind dog owners, with over 2,500 members. I have a web site with stories of blind dogs at: ( www.blinddogs.net ) and a dog rescue directory at: ( www.dogrescueusa.com ) I am also working with 2 natural pet care companies, Natures Paws ( www.natures-paws.com ) and Botanical Dog ( www.naturalpetshop.net ) for natural products choices to keep Lucy as chemical free as possible, and inform other pet owners about natural alternatives. When I stopped by tonight to try and catch up on the forum, I was having a hard time deciding where I "should" post just the one message I had time for... and decided this topic would be best! I will be back to visit just as often as possible.... and sure do miss all of you, and the forum here!