Under normal conditions in healthy dogs, the lens (which are totally translucent and clear) is located behind the iris. Light is transmitted through the lens into the retina located at the back of the eye forming vision.
Cataract refers to the cloudiness, a partial or complete opacity which prevents light to pass through the lens and onto the retina. This impairs the normal functionality of the eyes.
Untreated cataracts always leads to complete blindness – loss of vision.
Cataracts can be a result of an underlying disease such as Diabetes, Metabolic Disorders, a pet’s old age, reactions to known drugs and medicines. Cataracts can also be a genetic inherited disorder of the eyes.
When a dog gets affected by cataract, the most visible signs is the cloudiness of the eyes. One can see a white to semi-white layer on the eyes. Bumping into objects, reluctance to newer surroundings, behavioral changes such as staying aloof, keeping by itself as seldom seen.
Dog breeds known to have a genetic disorder include:
› Alaskan Malamute
› American Water Spaniel
› Bearded Collie
› Bernese Mountain Dog
› Bichon Frise
› Black & Tan Coonhound
› Boston Terrier
› Bouvier Des Flandres
› American Staffordshire Terrier
› American Cocker Spaniel
› Anglo Francais De Petite Venerie
› Beagle Harrier
› Braque Du Bourbonnais
› Cairn Terrier
› Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
› Chesapeake Bay Retriever
› Chinese Shar-Pei
› Chow Chow
› Curly Coated Retriever
› Croatian Shepherd Dog
› Czechoslovakian Wolfdog
› Continental Toy Spaniel
› Nova Scotia Duck Trolling Retriever
› Welsh Corgi Pembroke
› Deutsche Bracke
› Dutch Smoushond
› German Pinscher
› German Shepherd Dog
› Giant Schnauzer
› Ibizan Hound
› Italian Greyhound
› Irish Red & White Setter
› Japanese Chin
› King Charles Spaniel
› Labrador Retriever
› Large Munsterlander
› Norwich Terrier
› Shetland Sheepdog
› Staffordshire Bull Terrier
› Siberian Husky
› Smooth Fox Terrier
› West Highland White Terrier
Cataracts can either be a genetic disorder or a result from the following conditions:
› Age of the pet, seen in dogs over 7 years
› Result of other eye diseases such as Uveitis, abnormal development of lens, Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
› Trauma, severe injury caused to the retina or iris
› Reactions to certain medicines, drugs
› Treatment of cancer, Radiation therapy
› Nutritional deficiency
› Metabolic disorders
› Diabetes Mellitus
› Hypocalcemia (High blood calcium)
Clinical Signs & Symptoms
The most noticeable sign is the cloudiness of the eye. Common symptoms include:
› Polydipsia and Polyuria (Excessive Drinking and Urinating)
› Bumping into objects
› Reluctance to newer surrounding
› Epiphora (Watery eyes)
› Eye pain
› Blindness (Loss of Vision)
› Eye Inflammation
› Twitching of the Eye
› Blepharospasm (excessive blinking)
› Redness in the eye
› Recurrent eye discharge
Veterinarians will require a complete history of your dog which includes medical history, vaccination records, existing health concerns, current and previous medications, onset of symptoms, diet and exercise routine and any information which can help in establishing a correct diagnosis. Diagnosis is done with a combination of tests. These include routine lab examinations and special tests. They are:
› Physical examination including a complete opthalmic examination
› Complete Blood Count (CBC)
› Electroretinography (ERG) Test
Treatment focuses on identifying and addressing the underlying cause of cataract. There is no proven method or medical treatment which can stop, prevent, reverse or shrink cataracts.
› Surgically removing cataracts is always the preferred treatment of choice.
› Medications to treat Uveitis, Diabetes and other diseases will be prescribed before surgery can be opted.
If left untreated, cataracts can lead to partial or complete loss of vision in one or both eyes.
There is no prevention for cataracts as a genetic inheritance.
For cataracts formed from an underlying condition, prompt identification and early diagnosis of secondary diseases can prevent cataracts from forming.
Home care should aim at improving the condition. Treatments can take a few days up-to a week. If you observe any behavioral changes, or if the condition does not improve, please contact your veterinarian. Prognosis is always good post surgery.
› It is mandatory to provide a stress-free environment for your dog. Keep water and food bowls within reach. Avoid physical activity. Keep your cats away from any noise and commotions.
› You have to administer and monitor all prescribed medicine as directed by your veterinarian.
› Do NOT travel with your dog.
› Do NOT allow your dog to roam freely, it reduces the chances of contracting other infections which can affect the eye.
› A well planned, nutritious diet post recovery is necessary in such conditions.
› Always keep sharp objects covered and fragile objects away from pets to avoid the risk of injury and accidents.