Things to Know Before Your Pet’s Cataract Consultation
Cataracts affect all kinds of animals, from cats and dogs to rabbits, horses, and beyond. If you believe your pet might have a cataract, it’s important to schedule a cataract consultation with your primary care vet as soon as possible. If left untreated, the condition can worsen and significantly affect your animal’s quality of life over time. Below are some of the most common questions we hear from pet owners about cataracts, and some basic information to help you prepare for meeting with a veterinary ophthalmologist:
What Are Cataracts?
A cataract is any abnormal opacity of the lens inside the eye, and is typically white in color. When a cataract is present, the entire lens of the eye might be affected, or only certain parts. Cataracts not only interfere with how clear an animal’s vision is—they can also cause complete functional blindness.
For dogs, the most common causes of cataracts are genetics (meaning that cataracts are inherited), and diabetes. 75% of diabetic dogs develop cataracts within a year of their initial diagnosis, and 100% develop the condition within two years. Cataracts may form in one or both eyes, either suddenly or gradually. Unlike humans, cataracts are NOT just an issue for older dogs. In fact, many dogs with genetic cataracts develop the condition between one and four years of age! Fortunately, this is a great time to intervene and help treat the condition before it worsens.
Does My Pet Definitely Have a Cataract?
Cataracts are diagnosed with a thorough ophthalmic examination by a veterinary ophthalmologist. Some age-related changes can cause a haziness in the eye that is NOT a cataract, but may also require surgery. A veterinary ophthalmologist will be able to differentiate a cataract from other conditions and help you decide on the right treatment option for you and your pet.
What Treatment Options Are Available for My Pet’s Cataract?
The ONLY way to restore vision to an eye that has developed a cataract is through surgical removal of the cataract. There are not currently any eye drops or other medications that are effective at dissolving or removing cataracts. If cataract surgery is not advisable, or if you choose not to pursue cataract surgery, lifelong topical medications will be prescribed in order to provide maximum comfort and quality of life for your pet.
What Else Can I Do to Prepare for My Pet’s Cataract Consultation?
For more on cataracts and the treatments and procedures available, download our complete pre-surgical guide via the link below. It includes detailed information on what pet owners can expect before, during, and after cataract surgery, as well as aftercare instructions and follow-up exams.
Learn more about pet cataracts by downloading the guide below written by Dr. Lutz: