In dogs, cataracts are a fairly common eye condition. They can result in blurred vision and eventually blindness, but surgery can often help restore vision. Today, our Boulder County veterinarians talk about canine cataract surgery and what to expect if your dog needs it.
What are cataracts in dogs?
Each of your dog's eyes has a lens similar to that of a camera. This lens aids in focusing your dog's vision for improved vision. A cataract is a cloudiness or opacification of the lens that prevents a clear image from being focused on the retina, thereby impairing your dog's vision.
How can cataracts in dogs be treated?
Cataracts can frequently be removed surgically and replaced with an artificial lens in dogs. However, not all dogs with cataracts are candidates for this procedure. Cataract surgery may be contraindicated in your dog if he or she has a pre-existing retinal detachment, retinal degeneration, glaucoma, or severe eye inflammation.
Early detection of cataracts is critical for preserving your dog's vision. During routine twice-yearly wellness exams, your veterinarian can check your dog's eyes for signs of developing cataracts and recommend treatment before they become more serious.
The sooner a dog diagnosed with cataracts and deemed a good candidate for surgery can undergo surgery, the better their long-term outcome.
If your dog is not a candidate for surgery, rest assured that it will have an excellent quality of life despite being blind. With a little practice, your dog will quickly adapt and navigate their home environment using their other senses.
If you're wondering how much cataract surgery is for dogs, please contact our office and come for a visit to get an estimate.
What is cataract surgery for dogs process?
Veterinary hospitals handle things differently, but generally, you drop your dog off the night before or the morning of surgery. While diabetic dogs require special attention, your vet will always provide detailed feeding and care instructions prior to surgery. Obey your veterinarian's advice.
- Your dog will be sedated and an ultrasound will be performed prior to surgery to rule out any complications like retinal detachment or lens rupture (bursting). An electroretinogram (ERG) will also be performed to ensure that your dog's retina is in good working order. Unfortunately, your dog may not be a candidate for cataract surgery if these tests reveal any unexpected issues.
- Cataract surgery requires a general anesthetic. A muscle relaxant will also be administered to assist your dog's eye in sitting properly for the surgery. Phacoemulsification is used to remove cataracts in dogs. This procedure, like human cataract surgery, uses ultrasonic waves to break up and remove the cloudy lens from the dog's eye. Following the removal of the cataract, an intraocular lens (IOL) can be implanted in the eye to focus images clearly onto the retina.
- Typically, the veterinarian performing your dog's ocular surgery will recommend that your dog stay overnight for monitoring following cataract surgery. Following surgery, intensive at-home aftercare will be required, including the repeated use of multiple types of eye drops.
Will my dog be able to see after cataract surgery?
Many dogs regain some vision the next day, but it usually takes a few weeks for the eye to adjust to the surgery and the artificial lens. Cataract surgery in dogs is considered a highly effective treatment if the rest of the eye is healthy.
Approximately 95% of dogs regain vision after surgery. In general, 90 percent of dogs with cataract surgery retain vision after one year and 80 percent after two years, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Good post-operative care and regular eye exams and monitoring by your veterinarian are critical to long-term success.
Are there risks with cataract surgery for dogs?
Surgical procedures involving pets or humans all carry a certain amount of risk. Although corneal ulcers and pressure elevations within the eye are uncommon complications of cataract surgery in dogs, veterinarians have seen corneal ulcers and pressure elevations within the eye. It's critical to take your dog in for a follow-up exam with the veterinary surgeon to avoid complications after surgery.
What is a dog's cataract surgery recovery time?
After cataract surgery, dogs need about two weeks to recover. During that time, your dog must wear an E-collar (cone) at all times and can only go on-leash walks. You will need to give your dog eye drops and oral medications during this time. Following your veterinarian's advice is critical for your dog's vision.
A 2-week follow-up appointment may result in a reduction in your dog's medication, but some dogs will require medication indefinitely.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.