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Cataract Surgery in Dogs

Cataract Surgery in Dogs

It is quite common for dogs to develop cataracts, which can lead to blurry vision and eventually, blindness. However, with the help of surgery, sight can be restored. Our vets at South Wilton are here to provide information on cataract surgery for dogs and what to expect during the procedure.

What are cataracts in dogs?

Each of your dog's eyes has a lens similar to a camera lens. This lens helps to focus your dog's vision for better sight. A cataract is an opacification or cloudiness of the lens that prevents a clear image from being focused on the retina, impairing your dog's vision.

How can cataracts in dogs be treated?

Dogs with cataracts can often undergo surgery to remove them and replace them with an artificial lens. However, this may not be a suitable option for all dogs with cataracts. Cataract surgery may be impossible if your dog has pre-existing conditions such as retinal detachment, retinal degeneration, glaucoma, or severe eye inflammation.

It's crucial to detect conditions like cataracts early to preserve your dog's eyesight. During regular biannual check-ups, your veterinarian can examine your dog's eyes for signs of developing cataracts and suggest treatment before the condition worsens.

The sooner dogs diagnosed with cataracts, who are suitable for surgery, undergo the procedure, the better their long-term prognosis will be.

If your dog isn't a candidate for surgery, take comfort in the fact that they can still have a good quality of life despite blindness. With a little practice, they can quickly adapt and navigate their home environment using their other senses.

If you're curious about the cost of cataract surgery for your dog, please don't hesitate to contact our office to make an appointment and get an estimate.

What is cataract surgery for dogs process?

When it comes to veterinary hospitals, procedures can vary, but typically you'll need to bring in your dog either the morning of their surgery or the night before. If your dog is diabetic, there may be some additional steps to take, but your vet will give you clear instructions on how to care for them leading up to the surgery. It's crucial that you follow these instructions closely to ensure your dog's wellbeing.

Pre-Surgery Testing

  • Prior to the surgery, your dog will be sedated and an ultrasound will be performed to rule out any complications such as retinal detachment or lens rupture (bursting). Additionally, an electroretinogram (ERG) will be performed to ensure that your dog's retina is functioning properly. Unfortunately, if these tests reveal any unexpected problems, your dog may not be a candidate for cataract surgery.

Surgical Procedure

  • A general anesthetic is used for cataract surgery. A muscle relaxant will also be given to help your dog's eye sit properly for the surgery. Cataracts in dogs are removed by phacoemulsification. This procedure uses ultrasonic waves to break up and remove the cloudy lens from the dog's eye, just like in human cataract surgery. After the cataract is removed, an intraocular lens (IOL) can be implanted in the eye to focus images clearly onto the retina.


  • Following cataract surgery, the veterinarian performing your dog's ocular surgery will usually recommend that your dog stay overnight for monitoring. Following surgery, intensive at-home aftercare will be required, including the use of multiple types of eye drops multiple times per day.

Will my dog be able to see after cataract surgery?

Many dogs will have some vision restored the next day, but it will usually take a few weeks for vision to settle as the eye adjusts to the effects of the surgery and the presence of the artificial lens. Cataract surgery in dogs is considered a very successful treatment with a high rate of positive outcomes if the rest of the eye is in good working order.

Approximately 95% of dogs regain their vision as soon as they recover from surgery. Your veterinarian will be able to give you a long-term prognosis for your dog, but in general, maintaining vision after surgery is about 90% at one year and 80% at two years. Good post-operative care and regular visits to the veterinarian for eye examinations and monitoring, both after surgery and throughout your dog's life, are critical to long-term success.

Are there risks with cataract surgery for dogs?

When it comes to surgical procedures for pets or humans, there is always a certain level of risk involved. Despite the fact that cataract surgery complications in dogs are rare, veterinarians have observed instances of corneal ulcers and increased eye pressure after the procedure. To ensure that your pet's post-surgery experience is free from complications, it is crucial to schedule a follow-up appointment with your veterinary surgeon.

What is a dog's cataract surgery recovery time?

After undergoing cataract surgery, it takes approximately 2 weeks for dogs to fully recover. During this period, it is essential for your dog to wear an E-collar (cone) constantly and only go for walks on a leash. Additionally, administering eye drops and oral medications to your dog is required, as per the vet's instructions, to ensure proper healing and vision restoration.

After a 2-week period, a follow-up appointment can be scheduled to potentially reduce medication dosage, although some dogs may need to continue taking medication indefinitely. It is crucial to follow the vet's directions for the best outcome for your dog's health.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your dog losing their vision to cataracts? Contact our South Wilton vets to book an examination for your pooch. 

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