Older dogs and sometimes young dogs and cats can develop cataracts. A cataract is when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy obscuring their sight. As it becomes bigger and denser the worse the pet’s sight will be.
There are no medications that can prevent or cure cataracts but surgery can be performed to remove the affected lens and sometimes an artificial lens can be implanted at the time of surgery. Specialist veterinary ophthalmologist Dr Lo-An Odayar is able to perform these miracle surgeries at Valley Farm Animal Hospital.
Eyes are very sensitive and whilst most cataract do not cause pain; they can result in the lens slipping out of place and blocking fluid drainage resulting in glaucoma or they can start to dissolve within the eye which is a very painful condition.
Before cataract surgery can be considered a thorough examination must be done. The pressure within the eye will be checked and the vet will look inside the eye. An ultrasound and an electroretinogram will need to be done to check that the pet’s retina is healthy and functioning. If the pet is suspected of having an underlying medical condition, such as diabetes, that is causing the cataract this will be checked out as well. For pets that are able to have surgery there is usually very good news for a dramatic improvement in their sight.
Intra-ocular surgery is micro-surgery and an operating microscope is used along with very delicate instruments and a the thinnest of suture materials. A very specialised piece of equipment, a phacoemulsifyer is used to breakdown the cataract and remove it through a tiny surgical incision in the eye. It is possible to operate on both eyes at the same time.
Post operatively the pet must be kept quiet with no pulling on a lead, jumping or rough play for several weeks. They will have to wear an Elizabethan collar (cone). Eye drops and oral medication will need to be given several times daily for a few weeks after the surgery.