Canine Cataract Removal

One of the ways to deal with canine cataract is to remove the opaque lens. This is a surgical procedure performed by a veterinary ophthalmologist that returns eyesight to almost 90% of those dogs who undergo the surgery. For those dogs who don’t have a return of sight, there is often an underlying cause that wasn’t visible prior to the cataract being removed. Understanding the procedure can help you determine if cataract surgery is right for your dog and help you with the before and after-surgery care.

Pre-Surgical Drops

Your dog will need to have eye drops prior to the surgery. These are antibiotic drops in order to minimize the risk of infection and are given the day prior to the procedure. Other drops may be prescribed as well, depending upon the individual dog.

General Anesthesia

Your dog will be given general anesthesia for this procedure. Prior to scheduling the surgery, the veterinary ophthalmologist will conduct blood work to ensure your dog is healthy enough to undergo surgery. The general anesthesia prevents your dog from straining or creating issues during the procedure.

The Incision

The veterinary ophthalmologist cuts an incision into the eye about 2 to 3 millimeters long. Once the incision is made, a thick gel is injected into the back chamber of the eyeball in order to support the eye’s structures and avoid damage.

Cataract Removal

There are two ways the crystallized lens can be removed and the procedure used depends upon the condition of the cataract and the surgical equipment used in the ophthalmologic practice. A cataract that hasn’t adhered to the lens capsule can be removed by phacoemulsification. In this process a needle-like tool is inserted into the lens and vibrates at over 40,000 vibrations per second to break up the hardened lens. The pieces are removed, leaving a clear lens capsule.

If the lens has adhered to the lens capsule, or if the lens capsule attachments are not strong, the entire lens will be removed. The dog will still have functional eyesight, it just won’t be as clear as when a lens implant is utilized.

Intraocular Lens Implants

Lens implants are a plastic lens, much like a contact lens, that is inserted into the empty lens capsule. This helps your dog to see sharper, clearer images and becomes a permanent part of your dog’s eye. If the total lens is removed, intraocular lenses are not an option as the lens capsule must still be intact in order to support the lens and hold it in place.

After Surgery Care

After the surgery, your dog will continue to need eye drops that will help his eyes to heal without infection or complications. He’ll also wear a cone-shaped Elizabethan collar to prevent him from scratching at his eye and injuring it. Maintaining the drop schedule and keeping the Elizabethan collar on for the recommended period of time will allow your dog’s eye to heal properly and without event.

Cataract removal is an optional surgery that many dog owners consider when their dog has cataracts. While a dog can function without his eyesight, returning his eyesight with the surgery can provide him a more active lifestyle for the balance of his life.