Cataract Surgery for Dogs: Cataracts can result in blurred vision and eventually blindness for dogs, but surgery can help restore vision in many cases. Here our Cordova vets share a bit about cataract surgery for dogs and what you can expect when your dog goes in for cataract surgery.
What are Cataracts?
Each dog’s eyes have a lens, just like a camera lens. This lens serves to focus your pet’s vision to provide clear vision. A cataract is an opacity that can occur on all or part of the lens, which interferes with a clear image focused on the retina and impaired your dog’s ability to see clearly.
What is the treatment for glaucoma in dogs?
Almost in many cases, cataracts in dogs can be surgically removed. And it can be replaced with an artificial lens. Unfortunately, not all dogs and puppies with cataracts are suitable candidates for this surgery. Suppose your dog has pre-existing retinal detachment, retinal degeneration, glaucoma, or severe inflammation of the eyes. In that case, cataract surgery may not be an option for your puppy.
Success Rates for Cataract Surgery in Dogs
Dogs’ long-term success rates range from 85–to 90% after uncomplicated cataract surgery. Successful surgery is defined as a visible animal with normal intraocular pressure for at least one year following surgery. Complications can occur weeks, months, or years after surgery. Possible complications include:
- Eye disease
- Break the incision
- Retinal detachment
- Poor vision immediately after surgery
- There is an infection inside the eye, ulcers due to corneal disease, and possible wound rupture.
- Progressive scarring/opacity of the lens capsule that remains in the eye resulting in poor vision over a long period
Cost of surgery
We will provide a rough estimate for surgery, including preoperative workup (exam, electroretinography, ocular ultrasound, bloodwork), surgery (anesthesia, surgical procedure, lens implant), hospitalization, and medications to return home after surgery.
But not all medications require a longer duration and check again after surgery. It is important to – note that the estimate does not include costs for any potential complications.
What happens during a dog’s stay for surgery?
When you return for your re-examination, we will perform an eye exam and arrange for an ocular ultrasound and electroretinography test to ensure the eyes are healthy enough for surgery. Blood donations will also be made. We may choose to check the drainage angle of the vision (gonioscopy).
If all tests pass, your dog will be a good surgical candidate, and the surgery will proceed the next day. Your dog will still be in the hospital for the night after surgery so that we can monitor the pressure inside the eye. Your dog will be discharged the next day — at least two nights in the hospital if all goes well.
What is the Cataract Surgery Procedure for Dogs?
Each veterinary hospital is different; however, in most cases, you will leave your dog in the morning or the night before surgery. At the same time, dogs with diabetes require some special care. In all cases, your pet vet will provide you with detailed instructions regarding feeding and care until the day of surgery. Be sure to follow your pet vet’s instructions carefully.
Your dog will be sedated before surgery begins. An ultrasound will check for retinal detachment or lens rupture (rupture) problems. An electroretinogram (ERG) will also confirm that your dog’s retina is working correctly. Unfortunately, your pooch may not be suitable for cataract surgery if these tests reveal an unexpected problem.
In all dogs, cataract surgery is performed under a general anesthetic procedure. A muscle relaxant will also be given to help the eye sit in the correct position for the operation.
In dogs with cataracts, it is removed using a technique called phacoemulsification. This procedure uses an ultrasonic device to remove and break up the cloudy lens from the dog’s eye. And this is the same procedure used in cataract operations on ordinary people. Once the lens containing the cataract has been removed, an artificial lens implant (intraocular lens, or IOL) may be placed in the eye so that the images can be focused clearly on the retina.
Usually, the vet will recommend that your dog stay overnight for observation after cataract surgery. Intensive care will be required once your dog goes home, including different eye drops several times each day.
Will a dog be able to see after cataract surgery?
About 95% of dogs recover from surgery as soon as they recover. Your pet vet will be able to give you a long-term prognosis for your dog. Generally speaking, vision retention after surgery is about 90% at one year and 80% two years after the operation. The keys to successful long-term results are good post-operative care and regular visits to the veterinarian for eye examinations and monitoring after surgery and through your dog’s life.
Are There Risks of Cataract Surgery for Dogs?
All surgical procedures with people or pets come with some level of risk. Complications from cataract surgery in dogs are rare. But some of the complications seen by veterinary ophthalmologists after cataract surgery are corneal ulcers and increased pressure within the eye.
It is essential to take the dog for a follow-up examination with a veterinary surgeon to help prevent problems from developing after surgery.
How long will it take for a dog to recover from cataract surgery?
The initial healing period after cataract surgery in dogs is approximately two weeks. Your puppy will need to wear an E-collar (cone) during that period. Their activity will be limited to leash walking only. You will also need to give your dog several eye drops and oral medications. Following your vet’s instructions carefully is essential to get a good result for your dog’s vision.
Depending on the 2-week follow-up appointment results, your dog’s medications may be reduced. However, some puppies will need to remain on medication permanently.
How do you find an Eye Doctor for a Dog?
Veterinarians who care for the vision of pets are called veterinary ophthalmologists. Usually, these specialists only book appointments when patients are referred to them for care by their primary vet. Suppose you are concerned about your dog’s vision. So check with your regular vet. And request to contact your nearest veterinary ophthalmologist.
Argylevet provides veterinary specialists and emergency pet ophthalmology services to diagnose and treat eye problems in dogs, cats, and horses. Argylevet Veterinary Ophthalmologists use a state-of-the-art approach to the care of your pet’s eyes. Because some pet eye conditions can be reversed when diagnosed in their early stages, Argylevet emphasizes the clinical part of their ophthalmology services.