Here are the most common causes of “cataracts” in dogs

There are different causes of vision loss in canines, such as glaucoma, cataracts, retinopathies and neurological diseases, among others. Cataract is the most common but it can be treated because it is possible to recover sight through a surgical procedure called phacoemulsification with implantation of an intraocular lens.

Cataract is a relatively common disease in dogs and consists of a loss of transparency of an internal lens of the eye called the crystalline lens, which is responsible for the visual focus and the correct orientation of images towards the retina.

Causes of cataracts in dogs

In this case, the translucent lens normally becomes whitish and obstructs the passage of images and light to the retina, causing blindness or loss of visual acuity.

The most common causes of cataracts in dogs are:

  • Hereditary origin.
  • Cataracts associated with diabetes.
  • Senile cataracts in older dogs.
  • When we observe a change in the appearance of one or both eyes or a decrease in sight in our dog, it is recommended to consult a certified veterinary ophthalmologist. The most common reason for consultation of a patient with cataracts is loss of vision and change in eye color.

The ophthalmological examination will assess different aspects such as tear production, intraocular pressure, possible intraocular inflammation, cataract status and, if possible, examine the retina.

Treatment of cataracts in dogs

The treatment for cataracts that affect vision is surgery, the technique is called phacoemulsification and consists of making a pair of small incisions (3.2 mm and 2 mm) through which the contents of the lens will be extracted, leaving the capsule or intact envelope where we will place or implant an intraocular lens and thus correct the refractive error generated. These lenses are flexible and are usually made from acrylic. They can be bent and inserted through very small incisions.

The selection of patients for surgery depends on several aspects. In general, it begins with a complete ophthalmological examination and the absence of complicated ocular pathologies such as glaucoma or uveitis. Three preoperative examinations are necessary to allow us to classify and predict possible complications.

The first and perhaps the most important examination is electroretinography (ERG), which makes it possible to assess the function of the retina and thus exclude pathologies of the fundus. The second examination, called a gonioscopy, assesses the iridocorneal angle, which is the most important drainage system for aqueous humor in the canine eye. The third examination consists of an ocular ultrasound, which allows us to rule out intraocular changes and take the necessary measures to choose the most appropriate intraocular lens to implant.

Postoperative management involves managing pain, swelling, and possible increases in intraocular pressure. In general, the success rate of the surgery is 90% and depends on the surgical technique as well as the postoperative management that the owners are responsible for.

Classification of cataracts

Beginner : 0-25% small cataracts, almost imperceptible to the owner.

Early immature: 25-75% reduction in visual field, requires initial medical check-up and treatment.

Late immaturity 75-90% vision compromised, timing appropriate for surgery

Mature 90-100% total reduction in vision, requires intensive medical treatment and additional examinations to determine if it is possible to operate.

The 100% hypermature are old and long-standing cataracts that are usually not operated on.

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