Cataracts in dogs: from causes to treatment

Eye diseases even occur in dogs that are treated with care and attention. Cataracts are among the most common eye pathologies in four-legged pets. Its appearance and development cannot be noticed immediately, since the process can take years. But, having discovered the very first signs of a formidable pathology, it cannot be ignored, the price of the owner's carelessness is the pet's blindness.

What is a cataract from a medical point of view

Cataract is a violation of the function of the lens of the eye due to its opacity. With a decrease in the transparency of the lens, the permeability of light rays to the retina of the eye decreases, and with the progression of the disease, it is completely lost. Pathology can lead to complications in the form of other, no less serious eye diseases (glaucoma, high intraocular pressure, etc.) and complete loss of vision.

There are two forms of canine cataract:

Primary. 

Hereditary congenital disease. It affects both eyes and develops symmetrically. Other possible routes of occurrence:

  • Intrauterine infection of the fetus.
  • Toxic damage at the stage of lens formation.
  • Injury.
  • Senile changes.

Secondary. 

It occurs as a result of existing diseases. It is less common than the primary one, but it is also much less treatable.

The stages of cataract development are divided according to the degree of damage to the lens:

  1. Initial - It can last for years. With early diagnosis (which is possible with the current level of animal medicine), therapy can stop the irreversible process until it moves to the next stage.
  2. Immature -  It is expressed by a decrease in vision and an increase in the area of opacity. At this stage, surgical treatment is undesirable.
  3. Mature - It is easily diagnosed due to the pronounced area of opacity. Visual acuity drops significantly in an animal. The operation is inevitable and indicated.
  4. Overripe - Complete lesion of the lens, requiring urgent surgical intervention.

Causes of cataract development in dogs

There is no exact explanation of the origin of the disease yet. But scientific medicine in most developed countries is of the general opinion that cataracts have a polygenic nature, that is, it is directly related to genetic disposition. According to long-term studies, in 80% of cases, animals developed cataracts when one (both) parents had it. Experimentally, the breeds of dogs most susceptible to this disease were identified:

  • All poodle groups
  • American and English Cocker Spaniels
  • Golden retriever
  • Schnauzers (especially the miniature schnauzer )
  • All types of terriers .

For what reason, these breeds of dogs are certainly in a special risk group is unknown to this day, but the fact remains - the lion's share of diagnosed cataracts have been identified in dogs of these species.

Another reason causing the development of cataracts and affecting all existing breeds is mechanical trauma to the organs of vision:

  • Impact (accident, fight, unsuccessful game, etc.).
  • Burn (acid, alkali, UV rays).

Very rarely (but still, it is possible) the disease manifests itself in connection with the prolonged action of abnormal temperatures (a long stay in severe frost or scorching sun).

The eyeball can undergo irreversible changes if the animal has other serious health problems:

  • Endocrine (the most common of which is diabetes mellitus ).
  • Autoimmune diseases.
  • Infectious diseases (especially chronic and with frequent exacerbations).
  • Intoxication (infrequently, but there are cases in veterinary medicine when poisoning provokes cataracts).

Do not discount such an inevitable factor as age. In older animals, any diseases can become aggravated. By the way, the 8-year line in animals is considered the most dangerous in terms of cataract activation.

Symptoms of cataract in dogs

One hundred percent symptom of this disease is a clouded lens, and if the lesion touches the center of the eye organ, then it is not difficult to notice the pathology. But peripheral lesions cannot be detected without special studies (we are talking about the initial stage of the disease).

With the development of cataracts, the eyeballs tend to fade and become bluish. Such signs signal the need to visit a specialist and carry out diagnostic procedures. Differential diagnosis is needed to exclude other pathologies with similar symptoms.

If you do not fight the clinic of the disease, then the pet will constantly increase intraocular pressure and have headache attacks, and the far-reaching process will cause the animal to be blinded.

Diagnosis of cataracts:

  • Visual inspection
  • Electroretinogram.

After confirming the diagnosis, the veterinarian draws up a treatment regimen.

Methods for managing cataracts in dogs

There are no conservative treatments for cataracts. With early diagnosis, when the disease is still at its initial stage, the chances of stopping the disease are high. For this, vitamin drops, enzyme solutions and other medications are used.

A universal drug, despite constant attempts to find a non-surgical solution to the problem, has not yet been invented. Therefore, the only effective way to get rid of cataracts in animals, like in human medicine, is surgical.

Surgical cataract treatment

Cataract surgery in dogs is divided into two types:

Phacoemulsification

The newest method with highly effective indicators, especially with regard to overripe cataracts. Its essence is the suction of cataracts through the lens of the dog's eye shattered by ultrasound. The latter is replaced after surgery with an unnatural component or intraocular lens.

This type of operation is used even at the initial stage of the disease, which has not been done before. Moreover, removing the "soft" lens was not so risky in terms of trauma than a more mature cataract. In the preoperative preparatory period, a viscous substance - viscoelastic is placed on the eyeball of the pet to protect the eye from accidental mechanical damage.

In case of cataract in both eyes, the first operation is performed on the organ where the disease is rapidly progressing. The second of the visual pair is operated later - most often after several months. The age of the dog suitable for surgery is from 6 months. The rehabilitation period is rather short.

Surgical removal of cataracts in dogs

This method of surgical intervention is used if the replacement of the lens is impossible:

  • Senile age.
  • Severe stage of diabetes mellitus.
  • Uncontrolled eye pressure, etc.

Preventive measures to prevent eye disease

Regular professional examinations of the animal play an important role. When the age of the dog has passed the mark of 6 years, this becomes especially important.

At home, it is necessary to systematically examine the pet's eyes, clean the corners, and drip vitamin drops if the eyeball is dry and other abnormalities. Monitoring the diet and providing adequate nutrition, following the vaccination schedule , avoiding stressful and dangerous situations - all this will help the pet to maintain physical and mental health, minimize the risk of any, including eye diseases.

When choosing a breed from a risk group (with a genetic predisposition), be sure to check with the breeder about the presence of pathology in the puppy's parents. You will need increased attention for the "heir", but this is not a reason to refuse a warm lump, which at first glance took its place in your heart.


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