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Cataract Surgery for Dogs

Cataract surgery for dogs involves removal of the affected lens and replacing it with an artificial one. Learn about the cost and the conditions that would make this surgery necessary.
DogAppy Staff
Just like we human beings can have cataracts, dogs especially those who are old or have been diagnosed with diabetes are also prone to this vision problem. This condition refers to the lens of the eye turning opaque. If the opacity of lens is small, it is known as incipient cataract. In this case, there is no problem with vision. However, if the damage is caused to greater area of the lens, then a dog may have blurred vision. This is referred to as a mature cataract when the entire lens becomes cloudy. The intermediate stage is the immature cataract when a considerable area (not the whole) of the lens is affected. Once the lens has been affected and interferes with daily functions of the canine, then surgery is widely regarded to be the best treatment.
Change in eye color protein and water build up in the eye leads to change in eye color from its normal hue to blue, white, or gray. However, nuclear sclerosis in older dogs may also cause the lens to have a grayish appearance. Hence, a change in color of the eye may not always indicate cataracts. However, in case a dog is more than eight years old or has been diagnosed with diabetes, change in color of the eyes is most often a sign of this ailment. Other signs that a dog owner should keep an eye out for are frequent bumping of his pet into things, reduced jumping or vitality, reluctance to go to unfamiliar places, excessive squinting, blindness, pain, and inflammation in the eye.
When to Have the Surgery?
If a dog has vision problems that affects his daily life, then it is important to consider surgery for him. Earlier, vets would often wait until the canines suffered complete loss of vision. However at present, vets are of the common consensus that the sooner the procedure is done, the better the chance of the canine recovery. This is because, firstly, mature cataracts pose a threat of causing certain complications that may lead to complete loss of vision and secondly, the more developed the cataract, greater the chance of complications. Also if the condition has been there for long, then the outer layer of the lens may also get calcified which makes surgery even more difficult.
How Much Does the Procedure Cost?
Although this is a common health problem in old dogs, this ailment can be easily resolved by surgery. This involves removal of the affected lens and replacing it with an artificial one. Although this line of treatment is easily available, the process is expensive. Surgery in each eye can cost anywhere between USD 1,500 to USD 3,000 per eye. This usually includes a couple of days' stay at the veterinary hospital. However, it is best to confirm if this is the case with the hospital where you are getting your dog operated. Although the procedure in dogs and humans are more or less the same, medical insurance for dogs does not cover the cost. This might make many dog owners to look for options for low cost surgery. However, it is very important for an owner to ensure that in his bid to look for cheap options, he does not compromise on his dog's health.
Chances of Success
These surgeries have a success rate of almost 90%. Once it has been performed, the cataract will not grow back in the lens. However, in certain cases a mild cloudiness and wrinkling of the lens capsule may occur. This is known as secondary cataract. This is common in human beings. However, intraocular lens implants prevent the lens from becoming cloudy after a surgery.
Cataract surgery for dogs usually requires a couple weeks for recovery. However, pet care after the surgery is very important. Other than adhering to the medications as prescribed by the vet, an owner should use a harness instead of a collar to walk his pet. He should cut down on the activities for a month after the surgery. Moreover, he should regularly clean the discharge from the eyes that the dog may have during the first week after surgery and follow the schedule of re-examination rigorously.