Friday, July 31, 2009

What You Need To Know About Canine Cataracts

If you share your home with a senior dog, there's a good chance that your old timer will encounter vision impairment at some point. Cataracts often appear in geriatric dogs and are one of the leading causes of canine blindness. A cataract is an opacity on the lens of the eye. Although these opacities may start small, they usually progress to the point where the entire lens is clouded and all functional vision is lost (this was the case with our Greta, shown above). For affected animals, seeing through a mature cataract is comparable to looking through white frosted glass.

Cataracts can develop as the result of disease, trauma, genetics, and old age. The majority of dogs diagnosed with diabetes will develop cataracts. This is because the glucose concentrations in the lens increase as a result of the diabetes. Eventually the extra glucose is converted into sorbitol, which in turn leads to an influx of water to the lens. The added water contributes to a breakdown of the lens fibers and facilitates the formation of cataracts. If your dog receives a diabetes diagnosis, it's imperative to seek veterinary guidance about the accompanying vision concerns.

Canine cataracts can be treated by surgically removing the clouded lenses and replacing them with artificial ones. A veterinary ophthalmologist can evaluate your dog and let you know if s/he is a good candidate for surgery (for Greta, we decided that she's been through enough medical ordeals for one lifetime, so we're not pursuing cataract surgery). The American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologist' website has a nationwide directory of providers.

If you suspect that your pooch may be developing cataracts or another vision disorder, here are several signs to be aware of:
  • A tendency to bump into things
  • Reluctance to use stairs or jump on or off furniture
  • Hesitancy in unfamiliar environments
  • Bluish, gray or white color change inside of the eye (in many instances discoloration may be due to a benign geriatric condition called Nuclear Sclerosis which does not impair vision, but it's still advisable to have a vet examine any animal with discolored eyes)

For more information about canine cataracts, click here.


Dr. Wallace said...

What is the cost of canine cataract surgery? Is it relative to human cataract surgery?

toby magmire said...

The lens is situated within the eye itself, between top and back spaces. All light radiation have to cross through it in order to achieve the retina.

what is cataract