Cataracts in Dogs, Causes, Symptoms & Treatment
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Canines can present various eye problems. One could say that one of the most notorious is cataracts in dogs, which can prevent their vision from being clear. In addition, cataracts are the most common cause of blindness in dogs.
Cataracts in dogs are as the pacification of the lens of the eye, which acts as an intraocular lens. The function of this lens is to focus the rays of light on the retina. Cataracts impede the reach of that light, and likewise, the vision of the dog diminishes. This problem is easy to recognize for owners of pets who suffer from cataracts when they detect a cloudy, white-blue appearance in their eyes.
The causes of cataracts in dogs are the result of a hereditary genetic defect, even appears mainly in young dogs and not in adults or the elderly as we might think. What we observe on many occasions in the eyes of older dogs is called crystalline nuclear sclerosis. By advancing the age of the dog is hardening the lens and gives the eyes a grayish tone that we can look like waterfalls, but in reality, this does not affect their vision as they actually do cataracts in dogs.
Origin of Cataracts in Dogs:
Cataract is an ocular condition that is characterized by turning the lens of the eye opaque and whitish. The function of the lens consists in focusing the light on the retina to allow the image received by the brain to be clear.
This ophthalmological condition usually occurs in older dogs (senile cataract), from about eight years of age. This is because the center of the lens loses elasticity with age and is more compact or rigid.
The loss of vision caused by cataracts is due to the fact that they prevent light from reaching the retina. If the cataract is very large, it can cause total blindness in the dog
Although the loss of vision is not total, the quality of life of the animal decreases significantly. He loses security in his movements, which is why the dog acquires more sedentary life habits, which is a risk factor for suffering from diseases such as obesity. Therefore, it is advisable to take measures as soon as possible to stop the disease.
How can I Know if my Dog or Cat has a Cataract?
As the lens loses transparency, the area of the pupil that should be black looks more bluish or whitish.
When the cataract is forming, blurred vision and sometimes double vision appear. Our pet will have a harder time seeing people and objects that are far away and will have a harder time seeing at night.
As the cataract progresses, the vision will diminish. Our pet will begin to hit with the objects, and if it is not treated it can reach blindness. At this point, the pupil is completely white.
How are Cataracts Diagnosed in Dogs and Other Animals?
The way to confirm the diagnosis of cataract is through a thorough exploration of the eye with the appropriate instruments.
Only after a careful examination can we rule out other diseases from different parts of the eye (such as the cornea, retina or optic nerve) that can also be the cause of vision loss.
To confirm the diagnosis, discard other types of pathologies and evaluate the convenience of a surgery, it is essential to perform a series of diagnostic tests :
- Ocular ultrasound
- Review of intraocular pressure
- Slit lamp examination
- Revision of pupillary reflexes with chromatic light test
- Fundus revision with indirect ophthalmoscopy
You can check here the case of Pepsi, with a complete follow-up of his bilateral cataract, photos of the diagnosis and the previous tests and the video of the cataract surgery performed in the IVO.
Symptoms of Cataracts in Dogs
The most common symptoms of cataracts in dogs are the following:
- Excessive tearing
- Secretion in the eye area.
- Intolerance to light.
- The lens of the eye becomes opaque and white.
If you find that your dog has any of these symptoms it is recommended that you go immediately to a veterinarian to determine what is actually happening to your pet.
Treatment for Cataracts in Dogs
In fact, the only effective treatment for cataracts in dogs is the extraction of the lens, by means of a surgical intervention. It involves replacing the lens of the eye with an intraocular lens, and once this operation is performed, the cataract can not develop again.
This intervention is performed by ultrasound, with a percentage of effectiveness of 90 to 95%. This surgery is done in order to return the dog a high degree of vision, but it will never give back the complete vision he had before suffering from cataracts.
Something very important that we must keep in mind is that not all dogs can operate on cataracts. First of all, a medical checkup and general analyzes should performe to check the dog’s health. As in any other surgical procedure that requires general anesthesia.
There will also be some specific tests such as an electroretinogram and an ocular ultrasound. Perhaps this may seem like a long process. But it highly recommends that a dog that is suffering from cataracts should undergo surgical intervention. In this way, we will avoid our dog a discomfort. And we will even avoid the complete loss of the affected eye.
Prevention of Cataracts in Dogs
There are some ways to try to prevent the development of cataracts in dogs. It is important that you take care of your dog’s eye health with some methods. That will help your pet enjoy a healthy life.
- Clean your dog’s eyes daily with gauze and physiological saline.
- If your pet is long-haired, it clears the eye area as it can accumulate dirt and infections.
- Be aware that your dog does not get into areas where there are shrubs, or spikes as they can damage your eye.
- Give your dog a healthy diet and prevent it from eating sweets.
Can Cataract be Prevented?
Cataract can only prevent in cases in which we know its cause. For example, in cases of diabetes, we can try to control its evolution.
The congenital cataract or hereditary is very difficult to prevent and usually cannot control its evolution.
In no case is it possible to predict the speed at which it will develop until it causes serious vision problems.