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5 Things to Know about Dog Cataracts

By Gina Carey. September 03, 2012 | See Comments

5 Things to Know about Dog Cataracts

Cataracts are the most common vision issue that dogs face. Here's what you need to know about this eye disease.

Cataracts are usually associated with humans, but this eye ailment can also develop in dogs. In fact, it is the most common vision issue that affects canines. While cataracts do not cause eye pain, they can create sight issues and develop into more severe eye illness if left untreated. Learn the most important facts about cataracts and how they affect dogs.

1. Cataracts form on the eye lens.

The eye lens is clear and flexible, and is used to direct light onto the retina. Cataracts are opacities that form on the transparent lens, thus obstructing its ability to direct light. Small cataracts may not affect vision, but larger ones, called mature cataracts, cause vision loss.

2. Genetics are the most common cause of cataracts in dogs.

While there are a number ways cataracts may develop on the lens, the most frequent reason dogs develop this condition is due to hereditary disposition. Certain breeds are more prone to cataracts, and some dogs are born with them. After genetics, diabetes, lens illness (toxic cataracts), and eye trauma are other ways dogs typically get cataracts.

3. Dogs with diabetes are more prone to develop cataracts.

A high percentage of dogs with diabetes are likely to develop cataracts as a secondary disease. This is because the eye lens absorbs glucose from eye fluids for its energy needs. Excess glucose in the fluids causes an imbalance that contributes to the formation of cataracts. In many cases, the cataracts of diabetic dogs form aggressively and need immediate medical attention.

4. Mature cataracts have noticeable symptoms.

A bluish haze that forms over the pupil is the calling card of mature cataracts. But other changes in the eye, such as a crackled lens or inflammation, can also indicate eye issues. Symptoms of sight impairment and behavioral changes, such as trouble navigating, bumping into walls and objects, and walking with a high step, are also signs to pet owners that their dog is having eye issues.

5. Surgery is the only way to treat cataracts.

Aside from cataracts that are caused by nutritional deficiencies, cataracts will not clear up over time or with medicine. The only way to treat cataracts is to remove them through surgery. Once vets diagnoses cataracts, they will inform pet owners if surgery is possible depending on the dog’s health. Cataract surgery is performed using an ultrasound to remove the opacities. No matter what the underlying issue is, whenever signs of vision impairment or eye trauma occur, it is essential to have your dog checked out  by your veterinarian. In the case of cataracts, early intervention can help prevent future blindness as well as severe eye issues.

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