Have you ever noticed that your pet’s eyes are becoming cloudy? Is he or she seems to be bumping into things? It could be due to cataracts. Dogs and cats can develop cataracts just like people! This causes loss of vision, but there are some treatment and prevention options that can be really beneficial. Let’s take a look at what you need to know.
Most often found in senior pets, cataracts occur when proteins break down in the eye’s lens. The result is a cloudiness of the lens that increases over time to become completely opaque, causing blindness. They can affect just a small area, but they are often more obtrusive. They usually develop slowly, and sometimes pet owners do not notice the slight cloudiness or minimal behavior changes of their cat or dog during early stages. This is one of the reasons why veterinarians examine eyes during routine wellness exams.
Cataracts are frequently hereditary, and some breeds are more prone to them than others. Even so, pets without the genetic marker may still develop them. For this reason, DNA testing is advisable for breeders, but we can’t be certain if a pet will face vision loss from cataracts in its lifetime.
They can also develop very quickly as a result of certain illnesses or eye traumas. For example, dogs and cats with diabetes or hypertension are much more likely to develop cataracts, and they tend to progress faster.
Hereditary cataracts cannot be prevented. Those caused by illnesses can be delayed or prevented by properly managing the illness. Pets whose illnesses or eye injuries are not well-managed have higher incidence of cataracts and vision loss.
There is no medication that can cure cataracts, but treatment and management range from anti-inflammatory eye drops that reduce the likelihood of secondary glaucoma to surgery. This surgical option is much the same as in humans with good results! If your pet might be a candidate for surgery, your veterinarian can refer you to an ophthamologist for a consultation on the procedure.
If surgery is not an option, managing the effects of cataracts also includes managing your pet’s environment. Even moderate vision loss requires that you make accommodations in your home. For example, stairs will become problematic. If a cat is used to traveling stairs to get to its litter box, then it might be best to keep the litter box, food, and water all on the same floor of your home. Additionally, moving furniture or relocating food and water bowls can be confusing, and walking into unexpected things can be painful.
If you suspect that your dog or cat might be developing cataracts, see your favorite veterinarian today. We’re here to help, to answer your questions, and to help you develop the best plan of action for your furry family member.