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Cataracts in Dogs

What is a Cataract ?

A cataract is an opacity which develops in the lens of the eye which is normally clear. This will mean that light which normally pass unhindered to the retina cannot do so. In most young dogs cataracts are a hereditary disorder where the parents of the dog may either clinically effected or a carrier of the gene. In older dogs (11-12yo +) cataracts may occur as a result of ageing which is generally the same reason humans have cataracts. Occasionally cataracts are due to trauma.

Treatment for Cataracts in Dogs ?

Advances in veterinary ocular medicine and surgery have seen very successful treatment of canine cataracts. Put simply surgery involves breaking down the old lens (phacofragmentation) and removal then placing an artificial lens in it's place. This is, however, a specialist procedure. Before attempting surgery eye must first be evaluated by a veterinary ophthalmologist to determine if there are any co-existing problems in the eye which may make the surgery less successful. When the surgery is performed it must be done under an operating microscope. There are several methods depending on the case. The most common method involves making small incisions in the eye and small probes are placed within the lens of the eye. Using ultrasonic phacofragmentation the opaque material broken down "vacuumed" from the lens leaving the outside layer (lens capsule) in place. An intraocular lens (IOL) is then placed inside the now hollowed out lens

If your dog appears to have a cloudy centre (pupil) to it's eye it may be developing a cataract. If this is the case it should be seen as soon as possible by your normal Vet and they will decide if it needs to be referred to a veterinary ophthalmologist. Remember that, in most cases, the sooner an eye problem is treated the more successful the outcome is likely to be.