Cataracts can be defined as the clouding of the lens of the eye, it becomes progressively opaque leading to blurred vision and blindness in advanced stages.
The lens forms the clear part of the eyes and lies behind the iris and cornea, it allows light to pass through to the back of the eye, the light/image is then converted into nerve signals which are sent to the brain for interpretation, in the case of cataracts, the cloudiness of the lens produces a blurred image.
Lenses are made up of water and proteins, the proteins are arranged in a systematic way to allow light to pass through, as dogs age, the proteins begin to clump up and slowly grow in size until the entire lens is covered giving it a cloudy grayish blue appearance.
Causes of Cataracts
Symptoms / What to look for:
Once you suspect your fur baby is having problems with vision, a visit to the veterinarian is recommended, apart from a thorough physical examination and full blood work, an ophthalmic examination is crucial, blood biochemistry will help to check for state of the kidneys, liver and blood sugar levels to rule out metabolic diseases while a complete blood count will help to eliminate infections as possible causes.
Retro illumination is performed using a pen light during the eye examination, a shinning light is usually directed towards the pupil to check for opacity.
Treatment options depend on the cause of the cataracts, stage of the cataracts and overall health status of the dog. For diabetic pets, insulin is usually prescribed and appropriate drugs administered in case of eye infections.
Surgical removal of the lens is prescribed for cases of advanced cataracts, the damaged lens is replaced with a plastic or acrylic lens which functions just as well as the natural lenses. Antibiotics should be prescribed post operative and the dog put on an E collar for 14 days. This will prevent him from pawing at the eye and to prevent infections.
Owners should watch out for possible eye complications following surgery, these include uveatis, glaucoma, retinal detachment and suture failure among others.
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