How can I prevent my dog from getting cataracts worse? Essential Tips

Dr Karen Becker, from Healthy Pets, explains, “Cataracts are a clouding of the lens of the eye. The lens is inside a clear capsule, and the cataract clouds up the inside of the capsule so it’s not a film over the eye itself. It’s a developmental change inside the clear sack.

“Surgery to remove cataracts is done under general anaesthesia. A small incision is made in the eye. Most often a procedure called phacoemulsification, which is the same technique used on human cataracts, is used to break down the cataract and remove the cloudy lens. The lens is removed from the lens capsule, and in most patients, the lens can be replaced with an implant. The implant is permanent and can restore almost normal vision to your pet and in some cases, completely normal vision.”

How Are Cataracts in Dogs Diagnosed?

Your veterinarian will examine your dog’s eyes using a light. Veterinarians also use blood tests to determine if any underlying conditions might have caused your dogs cataracts.

How Can I Tell if My Dog Is Developing Cataracts?

Its important to know that another condition is similar to cataracts — nuclear sclerosis, or hardening of the lenses as your dog ages.Â

This condition causes their eyes to become more cloudy but does not cause blindness. Your dog can see even though their eye lenses have changed. Your veterinarian will examine your dog’s eyes to determine if they have nuclear sclerosis or cataracts.

Dog’s eye structures change as they age, much like ours do. If your dog is aging and begins to develop a cloudy look in their eyes, or if they have an underlying eye disease cataracts can start to appear.

They might stay small or grow, depending on the condition that has caused them and where they are in the lens. If cataracts develop because your dog has diabetes, they might expand rapidly to cover the entire lens.Â

Cataracts In Dogs: 3 New Natural Remedies

A dog develops a cataract when the lens of the eye clouds, which is caused by changes in the water balance in the lens or changes to the proteins within the lens. When the lens becomes cloudy, light can’t reach the retina, causing blindness. A mature cataract looks like a white disk behind your dog’s iris. The part of the eye that usually looks black will now look white.

Cataracts shouldn’t be confused with nuclear sclerosis, which is haziness caused by hardening of the lens as a dog gets older. All animals experience this change with age. The good news is that light is still able to pass through and contact the retina, so your dog can still see if she has nuclear sclerosis. (She may not be able to read the newspaper anymore, but she won’t be bumping into things.) Often, people think their pets have cataracts when they really have nuclear sclerosis.

If you’re worried that your dog might have cataracts, make an appointment with your veterinarian. Your vet will examine your dog’s eyes thoroughly. By using a bright light and a magnifying lens, a vet can detect cataracts that are just forming or are immature and haven’t yet started affecting your dog’s sight. Your vet will also be able to screen for other eye problems, such as anterior uveitis (inflammation) and glaucoma (increased pressure), that can occur with cataracts. Through blood work and blood pressure checks, she will look for systemic diseases that can affect sight, like diabetes and hypertension. Taken all together, the exam findings, clinical signs and test results will give an overall view of your dog’s health and vision.

Cataracts can develop very slowly or almost overnight. You probably won’t notice any change in your dog during the early stages, but once the cataracts are mature (completely blocking light transmission to the retina), she will be blind. She may bump into walls or furniture, be unsure about stairs, and have trouble finding her food and water bowls. Dogs are very adaptable, however, and soon learn to function without sight. In fact, if the cataracts come on slowly, you may not even notice that your dog has gone blind.

Cataracts are frequently hereditary. Scientists have identified gene mutations in several dog breeds that increase the risk of cataracts. In fact, more than 100 dog breeds are known to have some incidence of hereditary cataracts. If your dog happens to carry the gene mutation, she has an increased risk of developing cataracts. Genetic testing is available, but please note that not every dog with the mutation will develop cataracts, just as some without the mutation will.

The other common cause of cataracts is diabetes. Almost all diabetic dogs develop cataracts within a year of diagnosis. High blood sugar levels change the balance of water in the lens and cataracts form. Often, diabetic cataracts appear very rapidly, with a dog losing her sight within a day or two of having any trouble at all. Delaying or preventing diabetic cataracts has been a topic of great veterinary research. Oral antioxidants may delay formation, so talk with your veterinarian about what she recommends. In addition, there is a promising new eye drop awaiting FDA approval that may delay or prevent diabetic cataracts from forming.