Cataracts in our Pets

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Dr. Kathryn Fleming, a veterinary ophthalmologist at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Urbana, shares tips on recognizing and treating cataracts with our furever friends.

  • Cataracts are an increased opacity, or cloudiness, of the lens of the eye, causing impaired vision.
  • Both people and dogs get cataracts. With prompt attention, cataract growth in both species can often be halted with surgery, and the damage to vision reversed.
  • Cataracts in dogs are typically inherited and appear in animals around age 10. Cataracts can also develop as a consequence of inflammation, or as a result of diabetes.
  • Cataracts are usually reported fairly quickly by people, but in dogs, cataracts may go unnoticed until the animal is bumping into things.
  • Surgery is currently the only treatment option for cataracts. The surgical procedure is similar in dogs and people, but because dogs have larger lenses and usually have more advanced cataracts, the surgery is more invasive in dogs.
  • Without surgery, cataracts can grow larger, and eventually the dog will probably go blind. Luckily, a dog can still have a great life without vision, if cataract surgery is not chosen, as long the animal is monitored to be sure its eyes are not causing pain.

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