Cataracts in Pets
Cataracts result from a disease process affecting the lens of the eye, causing the lens to lose its normal transparency and thus impairing vision; in some cases, cataracts can even cause blindness. The lens of the eye becomes thick and opaque, resulting in a whitish/ gray area in the center of the eye.
Cataracts may progress slowly or rapidly, depending on their underlying cause. Cataracts can be a normal result of aging, but they can also be a result of a congenital defect, eye trauma, or secondary to some diseases such as diabetes.
Cataracts are often confused with nuclear sclerosis- nuclear sclerosis is a normal aging change (seen in most pets over the age of 7 years) of the lens that gives it a faint white tinge and does not impair vision.
Common Symptoms of Cataracts
In order to diagnose your dog’s eye condition, your veterinarian will perform a complete history, a physical examination, including an eye examination and certain tests to evaluate the eyes. Additionally, they may recommend bloodwork to look for underlying conditions that would have caused the eye disease. For complex cases, a referral to a veterinary ophthalmologist may be advised.
If an underlying cause for the cataracts is found, then treatment of that disease is called for. Routine eye monitoring is recommended as some cases of cataracts can lead to secondary glaucoma (a painful condition involving buildup of pressure within the eye). Cataract surgery is possible for pets in an attempt to preserve their vision, but an ophthalmology specialist is needed as not all pets are good candidates.