The Basics of Nuclear Sclerosis in Dogs

An Eye Condition that Affects Older Dogs

By September 03 | See Comments

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The Basics of Nuclear Sclerosis in Dogs

If you're starting to notice your dog's eyes changing color, your dog may have an eye condition most commonly found in older dogs called nuclear sclerosis. Learn more here.

If your dog has nuclear sclerosis, also commonly referred to as lenticular sclerosis, rest assured that this diagnosis is both very common, and will not have a noticeable impact on your dog’s health or movements. What is most important is that your dog will not experience pain as a result of this condition. In fact, getting this diagnosis is basically just confirmation of your dog’s age, since nearly all dogs will develop nuclear sclerosis after the age seven. Learn more about what nuclear sclerosis in dogs entails, and how to detect it in your canine friend.

Causes of Nuclear Sclerosis in Dogs

Your dog’s nuclear sclerosis is an eye condition which develops as a result of the physiology of the eye. It’s a natural process for tissue to be added within the lens of a dog’s eye. Since there is finite space within the lens of the eyes, as these layers of tissue build up they cause the formerly translucent appearance of your dog’s eyes to shift into an opaque blueish-gray. This transformation does not affect the dog’s vision, and occurs in nearly all dogs starting around age six or eight. It’s also important to note that this is a purely cosmetic shift, and does not cause your dog any pain.

Symptoms of Nuclear Sclerosis

The main symptom of nuclear sclerosis in your dog is the appearance of their eyes: rather than a clear lens, the lens will turn opaque and be a blue-gray color. This will happen to both eyes simultaneously. Because the eyes look cloudy, which is a similar symptom to cataracts, you may feel concerned when you notice this change in your dog’s eyes -- a trip to the vet will help confirm what’s behind the blue-gray appearance of your dog’s eyes. As dogs get very elderly, it’s possible that nuclear sclerosis will cause an impact on their vision, making it difficult to see things that are far away. The impact is generally minor.

Diagnosis and Treatment

You may possibly think that the changed appearance of your dog’s eyes is due to conditions such as cataracts or glaucoma. Since these conditions have a more serious lifestyle impact, and often require treatment, it’s a good idea to take these symptoms seriously and have your vet investigate the causes for the changed appearance in your dog’s eyes. This is particularly recommended if the change only occurs in one eye, since nuclear sclerosis occurs simultaneously in both eyes. In order to diagnose nuclear sclerosis, your vet will need to examine your dog’s dilated eyes. In some cases, a visit to a specialized dog opthamologist may be necessary.

This age-related condition is not preventable, and since nuclear sclerosis does not cause your dog pain, and also does not cause any major impact on a dog’s lifestyle, no treatment is required.

More on Eye Conditions

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What Are Symptoms of Eye Infections in Pets?
Cat and Dog Conjunctivitis Treatments

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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Nuclear Sclerosis at a glance

  • 1Causes your dog’s eyes to become blue-gray and cloudy in appearance.
  • 2No treatment is required, as this condition causes your dog no pain.
  • 3Nuclear sclerosis develops as a result of age, and cannot be prevented.