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Cataracts in Dogs

Cataracts in dogs can result in blindness.

Cataracts occur when the lens, which is the light-focusing structure in the back of the eye, develops a film that affects vision.

Causes of Canine Cataracts

Cataracts can range from tiny areas of cloudiness in the lens which don't really affect a dog's vision to mature cataracts, which involve a completely cloudy lens and blindness.

  1. Cataracts may be an inherited condition in some dogs. These dogs could develop cataracts at any age. Some of the breeds more commonly affected by these cataracts include:

    • Cocker spaniels
    • Boston terriers
    • Labrador retrievers
    • Golden retrievers
  2. Other eye conditions, including anterior uveitis and glaucoma, can trigger the production of cataracts.
  3. Trauma to the eye could result in cataract formation.
  4. Certain types of nutritional deficiencies can cause cataracts to form in puppies.
  5. Cataracts can form as part of normal aging, but this type of cataract is usually slow to develop and doesn't necessarily affect sight too much.
  6. Another common cause of cataracts in dogs is diabetes mellitus. These dogs often develop cataracts extremely quickly, sometimes even before the diabetes is diagnosed.

Signs of Cataracts in Dogs

Cataracts in dogs result in cloudiness of the lens that is sometimes visible when you look into your dog's eyes.

Vision loss may occur secondary to cataract formation, so you may notice that your dog has trouble catching treats, trips on steps, or otherwise acts like she has trouble seeing.

Diagnosis of Canine Cataracts

Cataracts are diagnosed during a thorough ophthalmological examination. Your veterinarian may refer you to a specialist.

Cataracts will need to be differentiated from nuclear sclerosis, which is an age-related hardening of the lens that doesn't affect vision nearly as much as cataracts and doesn't require treatment.

Treatment of Cataracts in Dogs

If the cataracts are associated with an underlying condition like diabetes or another eye problem like anterior uveitis, that condition will need to be treated.

Cataracts in dogs are not always treated, but surgery is an option if they are affecting the dog's vision and quality of life. During surgery, the lens may be replaced or removed.

Prevention of Canine Cataracts

Many types of cataracts in dogs can't be prevented. However, working to keep your dog at a healthy weight can decrease her chances of developing diabetes and the cataracts that form because of it.

If your veterinarian suspects a genetic component to your dog's cataracts, she should not be bred.

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