When the lens of a dog’s eye becomes cloudy or opaque, it is called a cataract. In a normal state the lens is clear, and its job is to transmit and focus light on the retina, which is in the back of the eye.
If a cataract is present in a dog’s eye, the transmission of light is decreased and can eventually be blocked altogether.
Signs & Symptoms of Cataracts in Dogs
- White, gray, or sometimes a shiny blue-green color, inside the eye
- Redness of the eye
- Inflammation of the eye socket
- Bulging of one eye compared to the other
- Noticeable vision impairments - Your dog may bump into furniture or walls
- Squinting of the eye
- Pain around eye, rubbing face, or pawing at eye area
Causes of Cataracts in Dogs
Cataracts can be hereditary or non-hereditary. Genetic cataracts are the most common, and age of onset and breed of dog are the most prevalent factors. Non-hereditary cataracts are usually linked with metabolic diseases, such as diabetes, and can also be associated with trauma. Cataracts are also commonly seen in older dogs due to the normal aging process and can eventually cause blindness.
Diagnosis of Cataracts in Dogs
Diagnosis begins with a complete history and a physical exam of the dog.
NOTE: Your veterinarian will be able to perform a good general eye exam, but most likely you will be referred to a veterinary ophthalmologist who specializes in diagnosing and treating disorders of the eye.
Your veterinarian will most likely do the following:
- Eye exam to confirm the presence of a cataract
- Series of blood tests in order to identify any underlying disease processes that can cause cataracts
Your veterinary ophthalmologist will most likely do the following:
- An eye exam using indirect ophthalmoscope and a slit lamp biomicroscope
- Ultrasound of the eye to examine the condition of the retina
- CAT scan in order to better visualize all areas in and around the eye
Treatment for Cataracts in Dogs
- Cataracts that are genetic and are not associated with an eye disease can be surgically repaired.
- Cataracts that are involved with other eye disease can also be surgically repaired. However, any complications, such as inflammation, must be treated before surgery can be performed.
- There are some treatment options that include using topical ointments applied to the eye. These are effective and can prolong the need to have surgery.
- In cases where diabetes is involved, treatment must first start on the disease. Further treatment will be determined once the underlying disease is under control.
Prevention of Cataracts in Dogs
There is no medical method for the prevention of cataracts.