Cataracts in dogs: Cataracts are usually easy to spot in dogs. The student’s cloud gives them away. Unfortunately, most dog owners think cataracts come with age and do not interfere with fixing them.
This is embarrassing because eye health is so important to a dog’s general health and quality of life.
The good news is that treatment for cataracts is available so that your dog can have good vision and eye health during their golden years.
What is Cataract in Dogs?
Cataract in dogs is a cloud that develops inside the crystalline lens. Cataracts in dogs range from a tiny droplet to a full lens.
When there is cataract, the opaque lens does not allow an image to form on the retina, resulting in loss of vision. Light still passes through the lens and your pet can still see light and darkness.
Cataracts are more common in older dogs, but genetics play a major role in whether a pet develops cataracts. Species such as the Boston Terriers, Cocker Spaniels, Siberian Huskies and Mini Poodles are more likely to develop cataracts, sometimes even younger.
Factors leading to cataract development in dogs:
- Heredity / Genetics
- Congenital (occurs at birth)
- Other eye disorders such as glaucoma
- Injury to the eye
- Inflammation of the eye
- Radiation or other toxic chemicals
- Electric shock
How to tell if your dog has cataracts
Seeing your dog at the vet when finding clouds is key to a good result.
If there is inflammation associated with cataracts, it needs to be treated, usually with eye drops. If left untreated, this inflammation can lead to other disorders such as glaucoma, which can be painful and pose a threat to vision.
This makes your pet a poor candidate for surgical removal of the cataract and reduces the chances of restoring vision.
Despite the popular notion that cataracts do not always lead to blindness. Lens cloud is a common indicator that your dog may have cataracts. You may notice a decrease in vision. Your dog may be clumsy than usual, bumping into objects, or have trouble navigating around the house and yard.
Diabetic cataracts almost always lead to blindness. One study found that 75% of dogs develop cataracts within a year of developing diabetes. Signs of diabetes mellitus include frequent urination, increased thirst and weight loss.
Diabetic patients developing cataracts can occur very quickly, sometimes even within a few days! Due to the sudden onset of this cataract, severe inflammation can occur and should be treated as soon as possible. It helps to maintain comfort as well as increase the chances of being able to have vision restoration surgery.
Treatment options for cataracts in dogs
Most dogs, unfortunately, have to live with cataracts and this can adversely affect their lives. Many dog owners think that vision loss is due to aging. As long as there is no underlying disease, what is the problem?
This idea is unfortunate; Vision loss can cause significant damage to a pet’s quality of life.
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Cataract treatment depends on their stage. Your veterinary team may recommend periodic monitoring rather than surgery to see if cataracts are progressing. Some patients need eye drops to control secondary inflammation.
Unfortunately, there are no drugs that can stop or reverse the progression of cataracts. Surgery is the only treatment that can remove cataracts and restore vision. The veterinary eye care team can further discuss the surgical options with you to focus and preserve your dog’s quality of life.
Canine cataract surgery is very similar to the surgery you would expect with humans. Unlike humans, our veterinary patients should be under general anesthesia. Using a microscope to see inside the eye, the surgeon inserts a small ultrasonic device into the eye to break the cataract so that it can be removed in small pieces. From there, the surgeon inserts an artificial lens into the rest of the lens capsule, bringing the vision back to normal.
In some dogs, the surgeon may not be able to fit an artificial lens. These dogs have better vision than they had before surgery. Early diagnosis and treatment are important to maximize the likelihood of successful surgery with your pet’s lens implant. After surgery, your pet will not develop cataracts again in the future.
Your pet needs a lot of facilities to stay in the hospital for at least one night for postoperative care and monitoring. Recovery from surgery is a very important part of ensuring a good surgical outcome. Recovering at home requires eye drops and limited activity for weeks and should be re-checked with your veterinary eye care team.
Vision health is very important for your pet to live a vital life. Our team recommends annual health checkups with your veterinarian because they can detect vision problems in advance.