Cataracts in Dogs
What Are Cataracts?
A cataract is an opacity in the lens of a dog’s eye, causing him to have blurry vision. If the
cataract is small, it won’t likely disturb the dog’s vision too much, but
cataracts must be monitored because the thicker and denser they become, the
more likely it is they will lead to blindness.
What Causes Cataracts?
Cataracts can develop from disease, old age and trauma to the
eye, but inherited conditions are the most common cause. Cataracts may be
present at birth or develop when a dog is very young-between one and three
years of age. A high-incidence of cataracts is also often attributed to diabetes.
How Can I Tell if My Dog Is Developing Cataracts?
If your dog’s eyes look cloudy or bluish-gray, you should take
him to the vet for an exam. Be aware, though, that it’s natural for a dog’s
lens to become cloudy, or gray, with age. This condition, called nuclear
sclerosis, doesn’t put a dog’s vision in as much danger as cataracts might, and
treatment isn’t usually recommended. However, any cloudiness at all in your pet’s
eye is a sign for you to take him to the vet.
What Happens When a Cataract Goes Untreated?
An untreated cataract may “luxate” or slip from the tissue that
holds it in place, freeing it to float around in the eye where it may settle
and block natural fluid drainage. This can lead to glaucoma, which can cause
permanent blindness. Cataracts may also begin to dissolve after some time,
causing deep, painful inflammation in the eye.
Which Dogs Are Prone to Cataracts?
Though dogs of all ages and breeds can develop cataracts, they
are more commonly found in cocker spaniels, poodles, miniature schnauzers,
terriers and golden retrievers. Dogs with diabetes are also especially
How Are Cataracts Diagnosed?
A preliminary eye exam by your veterinarian will tell you
whether you are dealing with a cataract or another condition that causes
cloudiness in the eye. You should then consult with a veterinary
ophthalmologist to determine the extent of the cataract and what steps to take
to manage the problem.
How Can I Help Preserve My Dog’s Vision?
In most cases, cataracts cannot be prevented, but there are
steps to take to ensure that your dog’s vision can be preserved, especially if
they are caused by a medical condition like diabetes.
- Examine your dog’s eyes regularly.
- Take your dog to the vet if his eyes look cloudy or
- Take your dog to the vet if you suspect she’s having trouble
- If possible, find out the medical history of your dog’s
parents, since cataracts are often inherited.
- Be aware of any conditions your dog has that may cause
cataracts, such as diabetes or eye trauma.