Cataract Surgery

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In the past, veterinarians waited for near blindness in both eyes before attempting cataract surgery. I am not sure of the reasoning behind this, but feel that it had a lot to do with the success rate of the surgery. In the past (prior to 1969), the success rate for cataract surgery was generally believed to be poor. Consequently, if the dog had any vision at all, its chances were just as good with or without surgery for long term vision. At this time, it is felt that the long term success rate is 90% or better for cataract surgery, if the patient is carefully selected. A cataract can be a source of visual problems in other areas of the eye if it is left alone -leakage of proteins from the lens can lead to inflammation in the eye, which can lead to glaucoma, which makes removal of the lens (cataract) much less likely to succeed. So currently, the recommendation is to remove the affected lens as soon as significant visual deficit is present. However, there are some criteria for deciding if your dog is a good surgical candidate that you might want to consider:

1. You must be willing to spend a significant amount of money AND provide a significant amount of aftercare!

2. Any inflammation present in the eye must be controlled PRIOR to surgery.

3. The retina should be evaluated prior to surgery to make sure it is functioning - the surgery may not be justified if your dog will not be able to see when it is over.

4. No other disease can be present in the eye.

5. Your dog must be cooperative about being handled and medicated. If not, the outcome of the surgery is seriously jeopardized. Be honest with yourself about this.

6. Your dog should be in good health. If your dog and you are good candidates for this surgery, it is worthwhile.


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