Every single eye is fitted with a lens, which functions very similar to a camera’s lens. A clear lens is vital to focus images. Canine cataracts occur whenever these lenses become cloudy. The cloudy area can vary in size considerably. They can occur in one or both eyes concurrently.
Although a cataract starts out small, it will grow in time. It may grow slowly and progress over a period of years, or much more quickly over a few weeks.
There are many reasons why cataracts in dogs develop. Genetics are commonly to blame, although conditions such as diabetes mellitus can also be the underlying reason for their development. Ocular diseases like glaucoma, uveitis, and retinal degeneration are other common reasons. Other dogs develop cataracts in one eye because of trauma or infection of the eye.
It is very easy to notice canine cataracts. The eye will become very white or cloudy. The affected area will get bigger and bigger over time. However, it is not uncommon for dog owners to think their pets have cataracts when they really don’t.
Dogs’ eyes will naturally change color as they get older. Instead of turning white or cloudy as is the case with canine cataracts though, the eyes will turn bluish-gray. This commonly begins in dogs at least six years old and is known as nuclear sclerosis. Since it naturally occurs in dogs, it doesn’t require treatment.
Cataracts in dogs on the other hand do require treatment. If they aren’t treated, then the area will eventually encompass the entire lens making it impossible for your dog to see out of them. If both eyes are affected, then your dog would become blind without treatment.
In order to treat canine cataracts, surgery is necessary. During surgery, the entire lens and maybe some surrounding areas of the eye will be removed. In some cases, an artificial lens will be inserted to replace the original one. Even without an artificial lens, dogs will be able to see though. However, since the lens help the eyes focus images, your dog will have blurry vision without an artificial lens.
Cataracts in dogs can’t always be treated though. Some dogs aren’t in good enough condition to undergo the surgery. For example, diabetic dogs will need to have the condition brought under control before surgery is even thought about. Dogs in otherwise poor condition may not be recommended for surgery either.