Help for Iona’s Sudden Blindness

Latest update: Iona, our beloved Great Dane, passed away the morning of June 7, 2018.  Thank you all for the support while she was with us and after. We are still accepting donations to cover her medical expenses, which in total costs $7,800, including:

- ER visits
- Eye examinations
- Neurologist examinations
- Medications

This has been a struggle emotionally and financially for us and we are appreciative of any support. Please see the Updates Section to read more about Iona's journey. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. 

Our beloved 6.5 year old Great Dane, Iona, is our fur baby.
She was the flower dog in our wedding ceremony this past September, and she is an important part of our little family. 

Photo credit:  The Girl Tyler

She loves to cuddle and prefers to be in the middle, between myself and my husband. We’ve completed many obedience and training  courses and in addition to commands, Iona has learned many tricks including “freeze” to balance treats on her nose and even in her jowels. 

We even adopted our tabby cat, Dom, to keep her company. They love each other like brother and sister, proving to be an unlikely but gentle pair. 

On Wednesday, January 10, 2018, my husband returned to our apartment and Iona wasn’t herself — she didn’t get up to greet him and was lying on the floor. After being unable to figure out what was wrong with her due to about 50 symptoms— elevated heart rate, some difficulty breathing, lethargic, hypersensitive, flinching, disorientation, difficulty seeing, bumping into things when on a walk—we took her to the emergency vet. We did X-rays, blood work, diagnostics, etc. and were there for hours before they admitted her to the hospital overnight. Thursday morning, Iona was diagnosed with sudden blindness per the ER vet. She lost all of her sight in about 6.5 hours, and she didn’t know what was happening to her. Yet just 2 days earlier we were literally bounding through 10 inches of snow together.
We were lucky to see the ophthalmologist that same day on Thursday. The ophthalmologist expanded on the diagnosis — Iona has optic neuritis and subtle chorioretinitis — both diagnoses for both eyes. The right eye is worse but she couldn’t see out of either. However, she could tell if it was light or dark. 

We don’t know the underlying cause of the issue with her sight. All of the common causes for sudden blindness have been ruled out. 

Iona lost her sight 2 days before we closed on the purchase of our first home—she went blind 2 days before finally getting her yard. We have been telling her every day for the past 2 months that we are working on getting her her yard, and we are heartbroken for her that she won’t be able to run around it like we had hoped for her. You see, Iona is very fast, and she loves to sprint. 

With the steroids and anti-inflammatories she was prescribed, Iona has slightly regained some of her vision in her left eye. 

The ophthalmologist thinks that what’s going on is “immune mediated.” That it’s potentially a very rare condition where there’s inflammation of the brain and optic nerves. It could also be due to cancer, lymphoma, or “GME” (an accumulation of cells that can act like a cancer).

 Right now Iona is looking at chronic or lifetime immunosuppressant medications. Because of her size and the risk of doing other damage with the meds, Iona would need to be monitored very closely, and the ophthalmologist would like to be able to have a more definitive diagnosis. 

We went to Richmond to see a neurologist on Thursday, January 25. The neuro exam was $275, but without doing scans — which they can’t do until she’s off the anti-inflammatory medications — the neurologist couldn’t diagnose her. (The MRI and spinal tap would be $2,875.) So where we’re at, in short, is the eye dr thinks it’s her brain, and the brain dr thinks it’s her eyes. 

With the emergency vet, hospitalization, ophthalmologist visits, medications (all totaling about $2,500), and now the neurologist ($3,000), we are struggling to be able to continue to pay to determine the diagnosis, and we don’t want to be at risk of not being able to afford the treatment. 

We are asking that anyone, whether you’ve had the pleasure of meeting our fur baby or not, please consider helping. Iona is a good dog, and she has brought so much love and happiness to our lives. The ophthalmologist says Iona could still possibly regain more of her sight and with the right diagnosis and treatment, her prognosis looks good. Every donation and positive thought that you send us helps us help our Iona! We are so grateful for your support!


  • Anonymous
    • $10 
    • 6 yrs
  • Lesley B.
    • $100 (Offline)
    • 6 yrs
  • Remy L
    • $100 (Offline)
    • 6 yrs
  • Marcelino L
    • $250 (Offline)
    • 6 yrs
  • Betty B.
    • $900 (Offline)
    • 6 yrs


Lisa Maund
Virginia Beach, VA

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