Harlequin Haven Great Dane Rescue

Harlequin Haven
Great Dane Rescue

11567 St. Rt. 774
Bethel, Ohio 45106

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Bilateral and Juvenile Cataracts

Though cataracts generally are associated with old age and diabetes (bilateral), dogs can begin to develop them when they're young, at six months to three years of age (juvenile).   A cataract is described as when the eye develops an opacity, a white film, of the ocular lens or its capsule.   The use of a slit lamp is required to diagnose cataracts. It is believed that juvenile cataracts are often inherited.

If you suspect that your dog may be suffering from cataracts, have your veterinarian evaluate him. The next step is to have your pet examined by a veterinary ophthalmologist.  The lens is an important link of the total visual system, yet the health of the entire eye should be evaluated before the lens develops a complete cataract.  Not all cataracts lead to blindness.  Evaluation will include the consideration, and the benefit, of cataract surgery.  Cataracts must be distinguished from nuclear sclerosis, which is a normal change seen in the lens of dogs over 6 years of age.

If your dog is diagnosed with cataracts, he must learn to adapt his behavior by using his other senses to compensate for the loss of vision.  Dogs can adapt surprisingly well to loss of vision, but there are several things you can do to help ease the process. It's best to keep your pet's environment as normal as possible. Try not to rearrange furniture, and keep its food dish, water bowl, and bed in the same place. If you do have to move something around in your home, lead your dog around the room. Knowing where everything is, will help keep your pet feeling secure.

How can you tell if your pet develops cataracts? You might not notice any behavioral changes, but his eyes will appear cloudy or blue-gray, as a result of fluid retained in the lens. In the majority of cases, cataracts are not a serious medical condition and the changes in an animal's sight are usually slight.

Be sure to consult your vet if your dogs eyes appear bloodshot or if he starts squinting. These signs could indicate that liquid from the cataract has started to leak, causing a painful inflammation of the eye. Anti-inflammatory drugs will fix this problem in many cases. Finally, if your dog is having a problem seeing, a little extra love and care from you can make things a lot better.

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