Dog Cataract Treatments


Most cases of cataract in dogs are of an inherited form. This disease
causes cloudiness in the lens of the eye. This cloudiness may be
located in the centre of the lens, or towards the front or the back
of the lens. Inherited cataract is almost always bilateral (that is, in
both eyes).
The disease can become apparent over a wide range of ages,ranging from when the puppy first opens its eyes to over 8 years
of age. Cataracts that develop at or around birth are termed
congenital cataract. Those that develop in dogs under 2 years of
age are called juvenile cataract, while those developing in dogs
between 2-6 years are termed adult onset cataract. Those that
develop in older dogs are generally not of an inherited nature.
In the German Shorthaired Pointer, cataracts generally present as
juvenile cataract, appearing most commonly between 6 months
and 18 months of age. The Canine Eye Registration Foundation
reports that cataract in this breed does not usually cause blindness,
although cases have certainly been reported of young GSPs
developing cataracts and suddenly bumping into things and having
problems navigating their way around. A recent breed survey in
the USA reported cataract to be the most common eye problem
affecting the German Shorthaired Pointer, with an incidence of 2.7%
in the GSP population surveyed.
Cataract is diagnosed by eye exam once it is present in the lens,

and by ruling out other causes. There are DNA tests available for
the inherited form of cataract in some breeds. Most cataracts can
be treated surgically, and the earlier this is performed the better
the prognosis is, and the less chance there is for complications. An
intraocular replacement lens is often placed, which helps improve
post-surgical vision.
Breeding programs in breeds where cataract is a major concern
should involve ensuring parents are clear by screening. Most
areas will have a recognised registration program for inherited eye
diseases, which is strongly recommended for breeders to participate
in. In Australia, the Australian Veterinary Association runs the
Australian Canine Eye Scheme (ACES), while breeders in the USA
certify their dogs via the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF).
Cataract should not be confused with the normal aging change of
the lens of the eye called sclerosis – this is often visible as a white
cloudiness in older dogs’ eyes. Often this can be confused with
cataract by dog owners, but sclerosis of the lens does NOT cause
loss of vision.

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