If the dog’s eye lens changes color, this can lead to blindness: The vision becomes weaker and weaker until the four-legged friend can only see contours and soon nothing. Cataract, an eye disease that also occurs in humans, is the most common cause of blindness in dogs. But affected human-animal duos do not have to come to terms with this fate. We explain what you can do against cataracts in dogs.
Symptoms: How to Recognize Cataracts
Contrary to the name, the lens initially turns less gray and more bluish-white. As the disease progresses, the lens of the eye may appear completely white. The dog goes blind as a result of the cataract and is more insecure and fearful. Often this is noticeable first in the evening in a darker environment. Months, weeks, or a few days can pass before you become blind. The course is different fast or slow for each animal.
However, not every clouded lens means that the dog has cataracts. In older four-legged friends it is often a clouding of the lens caused by hardening of the nucleus of the lens. With this senile sclerosis, the dog can still see. The vet can do a thorough eye examination to determine whether your four-legged friend is affected by cataracts. The earlier the vet makes the diagnosis, the better the chances of curing the disease with surgery. In the case of cataracts caused by diabetes, in particular, prompt action is required to save eyesight.
Causes of Cataracts in Dogs
There are several possible causes of cataracts in dogs:
- Dog breeds such as the golden retriever, poodle, dachshund, cocker spaniel, and miniature schnauzer are more commonly affected.
- Diabetes mellitus.
- Injuries or sore eyes.
- An inherited tendency to cataracts.
Therapy: Is Eye Surgery an Option for the Dog?
First of all: Without an eye operation, a cataract dog will go blind.
The key to cataract therapy is surgery, during which the veterinarian removes the cloudy lens of the eye.
Surgery is not possible on every dog. The veterinarian will conduct a thorough eye examination, including an electroretinogram and ultrasound, to determine whether an operation on your dog is promising. The prerequisites for this include a functioning retina and inflammation-free eyes. The dog must be in good general condition to be anesthetized. The trappings are also important: After the operation, correct and time-consuming care must be provided on your part. As a pet owner, you need to be ready and able to give eye drops and tablets as follow-up care. More on that later. If both eyes are affected at the same time, bilateral surgery is advisable. This saves pet owners’ costs and the dogs anesthesia.
Costs and Procedure: Surgery and Aftercare for Cataracts
During the surgery, the vet will replace the affected lens in your dog’s eye with an artificial lens. In human medicine, this is a routine operation. If you have a cat with cataracts, it is best to take him to a veterinarian who specializes in eyes.
Since many dogs develop high intraocular pressure after the procedure, they stay with the vet for one night. After the operation, the dog owner needs to cooperate: especially in the first few days, the dog needs anti-inflammatory eye drops up to six times a day. The distances between the drops can then usually be shortened. The vet will give you specific instructions. However, you will definitely have a lot of work to do in the first three weeks. During the first time, your four-legged friend will wear a ruff. This prevents him from scratching his diseased eyes. After the eye operation, some follow-up checks are due: at least two checks are required in the first three weeks. Even after that, you should see the dog at regular intervals to your vet.
Cataract surgery and follow-up care are costly: you can expect around $2,300.
The best thing to do is to ask your veterinarian to make a cost estimate.
Is It Worth an Operation?
If cataract surgery is possible, it is definitely worth it! With therapy, you can save your dog from impending blindness. Older dogs also enjoy more life with good eyesight. If the vet gives the go-ahead for the operation, the chances of healthy eyes are very good.
Almost every dog can see immediately after surgery. Nine out of ten four-legged friends keep their eyesight permanently.
In addition, although cataracts do not cause pain, they can lead to unpleasant complications. If the lenses become brittle as the disease progresses, painful inflammation of the eye can occur. Detachment of the retina is another possible complication. Increased intraocular pressure can be associated with great pain. If surgery is not possible, the affected animal must be given eye drops every day. This will keep the risk of these complications at bay and protect your dog from pain.