Posts Tagged ‘blindness’

Cataracts are a common disorder of the eyes, often in aging dogs, although young animals can develop them, too. Cataracts are seen less frequently in cats.

A pet owner’s first indication that their dog or cat has impaired vision may be that the pet has difficulty seeing in low light.

What is a cataract? It is an opaque* area of the lens or its outer covering (capsule.)
[*Not allowing light through.] 

A cataract may be a tiny spot or it may cover the entire lens.
A cataract can develop within a few days or over a number of years.

Cataracts can be hereditary and can lead to blindness.

Breeds often affected* include:

  • miniature poodle
  • American cocker spaniel 
  • miniature schnauzer
  • golden retriever
  • Boston Terrier
  • Siberian husky

[*The complete list is much longer.]

Though rare, cats such as the Persian, Birman, and Himalayan have also been afflicted with hereditary cataracts.

Other causes of cataracts include:

  • aging
  • diabetes
  • electric shock
  • exposure to extreme heat or radiation
  • exposure to toxins
  • injury to the eye
  • poor nutrition as pups and kittens
  • retinal degeneration
  • uveitis [a type of inflammation of the eye]

An examination by a veterinarian can help determine whether changes in the eyes are the result of cataracts, corneal damage, sclerosis [a cloudy appearance, but without vision loss], or another cause. In some cases, further diagnostics by an eye specialist [ophthalmologist] will be recommended.

Is surgery an option? It can be. We are fortunate to have veterinary ophthalmologists in our area who are able to evaluate cataracts for surgical treatment. Not all pets will qualify. In fact, if you are considering surgery for your pet, time is of the essence. As the cataract progresses, the retina and lens can become so damaged that the pet will not regain its sight even if surgery is performed.

What kind of medicine will help? Cataracts cannot be treated with medicine. However, the veterinarian may dispense medication for other disorders of the eye occurring at the same time.

What can I do? Dr. Donald Miele, a Norfolk veterinarian, has several recommendations: 

  • Try to keep furniture where it is; your pet has likely learned to navigate it well and any changes in furniture arrangements will lead to painful run-ins with chairs and tables.
  • Help your pet up and down stairs.
  • Follow your dog into the yard to make sure he doesn’t get lost or “stuck.”
  • Monitor his eyes for any changes in appearance and report changes or concerns to the doctor.

******************************************************************
Resources include:
Saunders Comprehensive Veterinary Dictionary
Saunders Manual of Small Animal Practice
The 5 Minute Veterinary Consult

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A version of this post originally appeared on Sept. 17, 2012.

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Cataracts are a common disorder of the eyes, often in aging dogs, although young animals can develop them, too. Cataracts are seen less frequently in cats.

A pet owner’s first indication that their dog or cat has impaired vision may be that the pet has difficulty seeing in low light.

What is a cataract? It is an opaque* area of the lens or its outer covering (capsule.)
[*Not allowing light through.] 

The cataract may be a tiny spot or it may cover the entire lens.
A cataract can develop within a few days or over a number of years.

Cataracts can be hereditary and can lead to blindness.

Breeds often affected* include:

  • miniature poodle
  • American cocker spaniel 
  • miniature schnauzer
  • golden retriever
  • Boston Terrier
  • Siberian husky

[*The complete list is much longer.]

Though rare, cats such as the Persian, Birman, and Himalayan have also been afflicted with hereditary cataracts.

Other causes of cataracts include:

  • aging
  • diabetes
  • electric shock
  • exposure to extreme heat or radiation
  • exposure to toxins
  • injury to the eye
  • poor nutrition as pups and kittens
  • retinal degeneration
  • uveitis (a type of inflammation of the eye)

An examination by the veterinarian can determine whether visual impairment is the result of cataracts, corneal damage, sclerosis (a cloudy appearance, but without vision loss), or another cause.

Is surgery an option? It can be. We are fortunate to have a group of veterinary ophthalmologists in our area who are able to evaluate cataracts for surgical treatment. Not all pets will qualify. In fact, if you are considering surgery, time is of the essence. As the cataract progresses, the retina and lens can become so damaged that the pet will not regain its sight even if surgery is performed.

What kind of medicine will help? Cataracts cannot be treated with medicine. However, the veterinarian may dispense medication for other disorders of the eye occurring at the same time.

What can I do? Try to keep furniture where it is; your pet has likely learned to navigate it well and any changes in furniture arrangements will lead to painful run-ins with chairs and tables. Help your pet up and down stairs. Follow your dog into the yard to make sure he doesn’t get lost or “stuck.” Monitor his eyes for any changes in appearance and report changes or concerns to the doctor.

******************************************************************
Resources include:
Saunders Comprehensive Veterinary Dictionary
Saunders Manual of Small Animal Practice
The 5 Minute Veterinary Consult

Read Full Post »