Dog Eye or Canine Cataracts are the second leading eye disease in dogs. A normal lens, which sits behind the pupil, is transparent and focuses incoming light on to the retina. The retina sends the image to the brain where vision is perceived. When the cells and protein of the lens begin to deteriorate, a cataract forms. The lens gets cloudy and light cannot be transmitted to the retina, so vision is impaired.
Signs Of Dog Cataracts
Change in color of one or both eyes: milky white or bluish-gray color.
Causes of Dog Cataracts
The majority of canine cataracts are inherited. Juvenile cataracts are inherited and occur at a young age. Cocker spaniels, Poodles of all sizes, and Siberian Huskies are breeds commonly affected. There are dissolving types in which eye drops containing cortisone clear the lens and restore vision. Non-dissolving types of cataracts result in irreversible lens damage and blindness.
Geriatric dog cataracts are part of aging. Diseases, primarily Diabetes, can result in cataract formation. Irritation of the eye due to trauma or infection rarely causes cataracts.
What Your Vet Can Do to Treat Dog Cataracts
There are no traditional medications effective to treat or prevent canine cataracts. Therapy requires surgical removal of the lens. The sooner the surgery is done, the better the chance for success. The procedure used is called phaco-emulsification and involves a machine that emits high-frequency sound waves that destroy the lens. A suction device then removes the lens particles from the eye. An artificial lens, called an intraocular lens implant (IOL) replaces the old lens. The success rate is 90 to 95 percent and vision is quickly restored.
The surgery takes approximately one hour per eye. Post operatively, discomfort is minimal and hospitalization is not required. Prior to surgery the vet will run an electroretinogram (ERF) to evaluate the function of your dog’s retina.
Hereditary eye problems including Progressive Retinal Atrophy are also ruled out to ensure surgical success.
Warning: Responsible pet breeders should have all their dogs pass a CERF examination prior to breeding to ensure that their bloodlines are free of hereditary eye disorders. This exam can only be performed by Board Certified canine eye specialists and it detects several inherited eye problems including cataracts in very young puppies before any signs are apparent.