WHAT IS A CATARACT?
A cataract is any opaque area of the lens. The cloudiness of the lens prevents the light from reaching the retina. Cataracts can develop in one or in both eyes. A small focal cataract may stay as it is or progress to include a larger area or the whole lens. The rate of progression of a cataract is difficult to predict and can range from very slow to very fast. Advanced cases lead to visual impairment or blindness.
WHAT CAN CAUSE CATARACT FORMATION?
In dogs, this condition is often hereditary. Other possible causes are: diabetes mellitus, trauma, and chronic inflammation inside the eye (uveitis).
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I SUSPECT A CATARACT?
If you suspect that your pet develops a cataract in one or both eyes, call us to make an appointment for a comprehensive eye examination. A complete eye exam is necessary to evaluate the cataract and the prognosis for surgery. The earlier we see your pet the better. The presence of a cataract commonly leads to inflammation inside the eye, which can lead to secondary painful and vision threatening problems such as glaucoma.
HOW DO WE TREAT CATARACTS?
To date, there is no known medical treatment to prevent the formation, slow the progression or reverse present changes of cataracts. Cataract surgery is the only treatment. A general anesthesia is necessary in all cases. With the help of an operating microscope, the opaque inside of the lens is removed by phacoemulsification. This procedure is very similar to the cataract surgery in people. Prior to cataract surgery it is necessary to ensure normal retinal function performing an electroretinogram (ERG) and an ocular ultrasound. We also require pre-treatment of the affected eye(s) with eye drops. We recommend cataract surgery for those patients whose vision is significantly impaired. However due to increased inflammation with advanced stages of cataract, surgery is done with the least risk of post-operative complications before the cataract has completely matured or is hypermature.
WHAT IS PHACOEMULSIFICATION?
A small ultrasound tip is brought into the eye trough a small incision in the upper edge of the cornea. The ultrasound is breaking up the lens material, which is instantly removed from the eye.
WHAT IS AN INTRAOCULAR LENS?
An artificial lens is placed instead of the original lens in order to provide excellent visual acuity. In rare instances it is not possible to implant an intraocular lens. Your pet will still be visual, but far-sighted.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE SURGERY?
Your pet will wear an Elizabethan collar to prevent rubbing at the eyes and tearing of the small sutures within the cornea. You will need to treat your pet with eye drops multiple times a day during the immediate postoperative time. It is also necessary to bring your pet to the recommended rechecks. Depending on those rechecks we will decide about frequency of medications. Some pets need infrequent medication lifelong to control post-surgical inflammation and prevent secondary problems.