As far as eye problems go, cataracts in dogs are among the most common. Cataracts can affect any age or breed of dog and there are a wide range of types and causes of cataracts in dogs. Despite the relatively high prevalence of cataracts in dogs, there is still a lot to learn about the disease. Most cases of cataracts can be treated but only by surgery, which tends to be highly effective.
Cataracts occur when the arrangement of lens fibers and their capsules become disrupted resulting in poor vision. A dog’s lens is normally transparent but when cataracts appear they interfere with the passage of light through the eye leading to partial or total blindness. Cataracts in dogs look like opaque white spots on the lens of the eye, but can also resemble crushed ice.
Cataracts in dogs result from the malfunctioning of a particular eye system. Unlike most of a dog’s body, the lens of the eye is actually maintained in a dehydrated condition that is approximately two thirds water and one third proteins. Your dog’s eye contains a physiological system that attempts to keep this balance but when this system fails and excess water enters the lens along with excess insoluble protein. This biochemical imbalance ultimately results in the formation of cataracts.
Dogs can develop cataracts at any age and there are generally three types of cataracts. Congenital cataracts are present at birth; developmental cataracts arise early in life and are often associated with other illnesses like diabetes; and senile cataracts arise late in life. Furthermore, there are some breeds of dogs that can inherit cataracts. Afghan Hounds, Boston Terriers, Golden Retrievers, and Standard Poodles are just a few of the breeds that are predisposed to cataracts.
Treating cataracts in dogs is restricted to surgery. Your veterinarian will remove all or part of the affected lens to restore site. While this treatment is not always effective, it has shown a very good success rate for treating cataracts in dogs.