Cataracts are a relatively common eye condition in dogs. They can cause blurred vision and eventually blindness, but in many cases, surgery can help restore sight. Today, our White Settlement veterinarians discuss cataract surgery for dogs and what to expect if your dog undergoes the procedure.
What are cataracts in dogs?
Each of your dog's eyes has a lens similar to a camera lens. This lens helps to focus your dog's vision for better sight. A cataract is an opacification or cloudiness of the lens that prevents a clear image from being focused on the retina, impairing your dog's vision.
How can cataracts in dogs be treated?
Cataracts in dogs can frequently be surgically removed and replaced with an artificial lens. However, this surgery is not appropriate for all dogs with cataracts. Cataract surgery may not be an option for your dog if he or she has a pre-existing retinal detachment, retinal degeneration, glaucoma, or severe inflammation of the eyes.
Early detection of conditions like cataracts is critical when it comes to saving your dog's vision. Your vet can check your dog's eyes for signs of developing cataracts and recommend treatment before they become more serious during regular twice-yearly wellness exams.
The sooner a dog diagnosed with cataracts that is a good candidate for surgery can have the surgery done, the better their long-term outcome will be.
If your dog isn't a candidate for surgery, rest assured that, while they will be blind, they will have a very good quality of life. Your dog will quickly adapt and navigate their home environment by using their other senses with a little practice.
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?
Each veterinary hospital will handle things differently, but in most cases, you will drop your dog off the morning of surgery or the night before. While some special care is required for diabetic dogs, your veterinarian will always provide you with detailed feeding and care instructions prior to surgery day. Make sure to carefully follow your veterinarian's instructions.
- Prior to the surgery, your dog will be sedated and an ultrasound will be performed to rule out any complications such as retinal detachment or lens rupture (bursting). Additionally, an electroretinogram (ERG) will be performed to ensure that your dog's retina is functioning properly. Unfortunately, if these tests reveal any unexpected problems, your dog may not be a candidate for cataract surgery.
- A general anesthetic is used for cataract surgery. A muscle relaxant will also be given to help your dog's eye sit properly for the surgery. Cataracts in dogs are removed by phacoemulsification. This procedure uses ultrasonic waves to break up and remove the cloudy lens from the dog's eye, just like in human cataract surgery. After the cataract is removed, an intraocular lens (IOL) can be implanted in the eye to focus images clearly onto the retina.
- Following cataract surgery, the veterinarian performing your dog's ocular surgery will usually recommend that your dog stay overnight for monitoring. Following surgery, intensive at-home aftercare will be required, including the use of multiple types of eye drops multiple times per day.
Will my dog be able to see after cataract surgery?
Many dogs will have some vision restored the next day, but it will usually take a few weeks for vision to settle as the eye adjusts to the effects of the surgery and the presence of the artificial lens. Cataract surgery in dogs is considered a very successful treatment with a high rate of positive outcomes if the rest of the eye is in good working order.
Approximately 95% of dogs regain their vision as soon as they recover from surgery. Your veterinarian will be able to give you a long-term prognosis for your dog, but in general, maintaining vision after surgery is about 90% at one year and 80% at two years. Good post-operative care and regular visits to the veterinarian for eye examinations and monitoring, both after surgery and throughout your dog's life, are critical to long-term success.
Are there risks with cataract surgery for dogs?
All surgical procedures involving pets or humans involve some level of risk. Although complications from cataract surgery in dogs are uncommon, veterinarians have seen corneal ulcers and pressure elevations within the eye following cataract surgery. Taking your dog in for a follow-up exam with the veterinary surgeon is critical for preventing complications following surgery.
What is a dog's cataract surgery recovery time?
Dogs need about 2 weeks to heal after cataract surgery. During that time, your dog must wear an E-collar (cone) at all times and be restricted to leash walks only. During this time, you will need to give your dog eye drops and oral medications. Following your vet's instructions is critical to your dog's vision.
A 2-week follow-up appointment may reduce your dog's medication, but some dogs will need to remain on medication permanently.
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.