Does My Dog Have Cataracts?
Does your senior dog have hazy or blue gray eyes? Have you ever wondered if your dog has cataracts or has trouble seeing?
Frequently, my clients ask me if their dog has cataracts , or assume they have them because of a blue gray haze to the lens of the eye. Today we will talk about differentiating a normal age related change called lenticular sclerosis from cataracts. Both of these conditions occur in the lens of the eye. The lens sits behind the iris and is used for focusing.
Lenticular sclerosis, also known as nuclear sclerosis, is the normal age related changes of the lens that causes a bluish gray haze in many senior dogs. Cells in the lens make new lens fibers constantly, and unfortunately old fibers can leave the lens, which contributes to the haziness of the lens. Most dogs start to develop them around the age of 6 or 7. Lenticular sclerosis normally occurs in both eyes and is symmetrical. When we look at the eye with an ophthalmoscope, we can still easily view the retina and fundus in the back of the eye, which means that your dog can still see. While this condition doesn’t cause blindness, it can make dogs far sighted and cause issues with depth perception in severe cases.
Cataracts are very different because they can severely impact vision and can be caused by multiple different reasons. A cataract is an opacity within the lens itself. They can be very small (called an incipient cataract) and not interfere with seeing, or can be more invasive (an immature cataract), causing blurred vision. All vision is lost when a cataract becomes mature. At this point, we can not view the back of the eye with the ophthalmoscope anymore. Cataracts have many causes, but the most common are genetic (inherited cataracts), diabetes, and toxic reaction the lens. Once a dog has cataracts, there is no method to clear the lens. Immature, mature, and hypermature cataracts can only be treated by surgical correction.