Article refereed by Drs Jeff Smith and Cameron Whittaker at the Animal Referral Hospital, Homebush. Sydney
Just like humans, pets can develop cataracts in their eyes for one of many reasons.
A cataract occurs when the lens in the eye, just like a lens in a camera, is damaged and starts to become cloudy. As a result, the amount of light hitting the retina in the back of the eyeball (just like the film in a camera) drops off. As a cataract matures and becomes more cloudy or even opaque, vision worsens.
In Australia and other countries with high levels of UV radiation, the eyes receive tiny amounts of damage which over the years can result in cataract formation.
Some breeds of pets are more prone to developing cataracts due to the make-up of their genes. This is why reputable breeders have their breeding pets tested by an eye specialist to check they are free of eye disease.
One of the most common illnesses to cause cataracts is diabetes. If the diabetes is not controlled properly, cataracts can develop quickly. This is one of the reasons we like to see our older patients regularly for health checks to ensure we detect these type of problems early before it is too late.
Cancer of the eyeball or lymphatic system eg leukaemia, can result in cataracts.
We recommend a thorough health check including urine and blood testing for our senior pets at least once a year-
Early signs of diabetes include increased thirst and appetite- if you notice this in your pet, its time to see your vet with the pet and a fresh urine sample.
Depending on what is causing the cataracts, treatment will vary. For cases that are amenable to surgery, we refer them to an eye specialist for a thorough examination and possible lens removal with or without placement of an artificial lens. Surgical results are usually excellent.
Senior Health Checks