Cataracts in dogs are a common eye condition that may lead to blurred vision and, over time, blindness. Fortunately, surgical intervention is often effective in restoring vision. In this article, our vets from Mooresville will discuss canine cataract surgery and provide insights into the procedure if your dog requires it.
What are cataracts in dogs?
Each of your dog's eyes contains a lens similar to a camera lens. This lens helps to sharpen your dog's vision for better clarity. A cataract is a cloudiness or haziness in the lens that hinders the formation of a sharp image on the retina, thus reducing your dog's vision.
How can cataracts in dogs be treated?
Cataracts can often be surgically removed and replaced with an artificial lens in dogs. However, not all dogs with cataracts are suitable for this procedure. Cataract surgery may not be recommended for your dog if they have pre-existing conditions such as retinal detachment, retinal degeneration, glaucoma, or severe eye inflammation.
Early detection of cataracts is critical for preserving your dog's vision. During routine twice-yearly wellness exams, your veterinarian can check your dog's eyes for signs of developing cataracts and recommend treatment before they become more serious.
The sooner a dog diagnosed with cataracts and deemed a good candidate for surgery can undergo surgery, the better their long-term outcome.
If your dog is not eligible for surgery, be assured that they can lead a fulfilling life despite blindness. With practice, your dog can adapt and navigate their environment using their other senses.
If you're wondering how much cataract surgery is for dogs, please contact our office and come for a visit to get an estimate.
What is cataract surgery for dogs process?
Veterinary hospitals handle things differently, but generally, you drop your dog off the night before or the morning of surgery. While diabetic dogs require special attention, your vet will always provide detailed feeding and care instructions prior to surgery. Obey your veterinarian's advice.
- Your dog will be sedated, and an ultrasound will be performed prior to surgery to rule out any complications like retinal detachment or lens rupture (bursting). An electroretinogram (ERG) will also be performed to ensure that your dog's retina is in good working order. Unfortunately, your dog may not be a candidate for cataract surgery if these tests reveal any unexpected issues.
- Cataract surgery requires a general anesthetic. A muscle relaxant will also be administered to assist your dog's eye in sitting properly for the surgery. Phacoemulsification is used to remove cataracts in dogs. This procedure, like human cataract surgery, uses ultrasonic waves to break up and remove the cloudy lens from the dog's eye. Following the cataract removal, an intraocular lens (IOL) can be implanted in the eye to focus images clearly onto the retina.
- Typically, the veterinarian performing your dog's ocular surgery will recommend that your dog stay overnight for monitoring following cataract surgery. Following surgery, intensive at-home aftercare will be required, including the repeated use of multiple types of eye drops.
Will my dog be able to see after cataract surgery?
Many dogs regain some vision the next day, but it usually takes a few weeks for the eye to adjust to the surgery and the artificial lens. Cataract surgery in dogs is considered a highly effective treatment if the rest of the eye is healthy.
Around 95% of dogs regain their vision post-surgery. In general, 90% maintain their vision after one year and 80% after two years, as reported by the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Proper post-operative care and routine veterinary eye exams are crucial for long-term success.
Are there risks with cataract surgery for dogs?
Surgical procedures for both pets and humans entail inherent risks. Although corneal ulcers and increased intraocular pressure are infrequent complications associated with cataract surgery in dogs, these issues have been observed by veterinarians. It is essential to schedule a post-operative examination with the veterinary surgeon to prevent complications.
What is a dog's cataract surgery recovery time?
After cataract surgery, dogs need about two weeks to recover. During that time, your dog must wear an E-collar (cone) at all times and can only go on leash walks. You will need to give your dog eye drops and oral medications during this time. Following your veterinarian's advice is critical for your dog's vision.
A 2-week follow-up appointment may result in a reduction in your dog's medication, but some dogs will require a prescription indefinitely.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.