Cataracts are a common eye problem in dogs. They can make their vision blurry and even lead to blindness. But there is good news. Surgery can often restore their sight. In this blog, our vets discuss dog cataract surgery and what you should know.
What are cataracts in dogs?
In dogs, cataracts are like cloudy spots forming on each eye's lens. This lens is similar to a camera lens and helps your dog see clearly. When cataracts develop, they make it difficult for your dog to see because they block the lens, preventing a shape image from reaching the retina.
How can cataracts in dogs be treated?
Cataracts in dogs can often be fixed with surgery. During this procedure, the cloudy lens is replaced with an artificial one. However, not all dogs with cataracts are candidates for this procedure. Cataract surgery may be contraindicated if your dog has a pre-existing retinal detachment, retinal degeneration, glaucoma, or severe eye inflammation.
It's crucial to catch cataracts early to protect your dog's vision. Your vet can check for cataracts during your dog's regular check-ups and suggest treatment before things get worse.
The sooner a dog diagnosed with cataracts and deemed a good candidate for surgery can undergo surgery, the better their long-term outcome.
If surgery isn't an option for your dog, don't worry. Blind dogs can still have a great life. They adapt quickly and use their other senses to navigate their surroundings.
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 before 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, if these tests reveal any unexpected issues, your dog may not be a candidate for cataract surgery.
- 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. Like human cataract surgery, this procedure 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?
After cataract surgery, many dogs start to regain some vision the day after the procedure. Still, it usually takes a few weeks for the eye to adjust to the surgery and the artificial lens. Cataract surgery in dogs is highly effective if the rest of the eye is healthy.
Approximately 95% of dogs regain vision after surgery. In the long term, about 90% of dogs maintain their vision after one year and 80% 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?
Like any surgical procedure for pets or humans, there are inherent risks. 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. To prevent complications, it's crucial to schedule a follow-up exam with your veterinary surgeon after the surgery.
What is a dog's cataract surgery recovery time?
Dogs typically 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 also need to administer eye drops and oral medication as your veterinarian prescribes. Your dog's vision will greatly depend on following your veterinarian's advice.
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.