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Canine Cataracts

Is Your Dog At Risk?

Cataracts are a common problem in humans. But what about dogs?

It turns out – yes! However, they’re typically hereditary. Additional causes include injuries to the eye and diseases like diabetes.

So, could your dog be at risk? It depends.

Cataract Basics

A cataract forms when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy. This area helps focus light on the back of the retina where vision occurs.

When the lens becomes cloudy, it’s like a dirty camera lens. As a cataract progresses, a white disk develops behind the colored part of the eye. The size of the cataract determines whether visual impairment or blindness occurs.

More simply put? The bigger the cataract, the more impact it has on light reaching the retina.

Cataracts can occur overnight or slowly with time. They can also affect dogs of all ages, even youngsters.

Dogs and Cataracts

People often assume their dog has cataracts because their pupils appear hazy as they get older. However, those natural age-related changes are typically due to nuclear sclerosis – hardening of the lens.

Nuclear sclerosis affects all animals, but light can still pass through the lens.

Unlike nuclear sclerosis, cataracts are often hereditary. Over 100 dog breeds have a higher risk of this eye condition, including:

  • American Cocker Spaniels
  • Welsh Springer Spaniels
  • French Poodles
  • Boston Terriers
  • Labrador Retrievers

Your vet can diagnose cataracts during a routine appointment. They can detect them when they’re just forming and check for other eye problems at the same time.

Treating Cataracts in Dogs

Veterinary ophthalmologists can surgically remove cataracts, if needed. This procedure restores a dog’s vision and typically comes with few complications. In fact, they’re often back to regular activity within a few days.

However, surgery isn’t the best option for everyone. If your dog has cataracts, your vet can offer recommendations on treatment based on the severity of their condition and individual needs.

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