Cataracts are a common eye disease in pets and people, and are the most common cause of blindness in dogs. They are opacities of the lens inside the eye, not a growth or cloudy covering over the eye. They can be caused by injuries, inflammation, and general illnesses like diabetes, but the majority are inherited.  Vision through a mature cataract is like looking through opaque bathroom glass.

Surgery is the only effective therapy for vision affecting cataracts, and is performed regularly at the Auckland Animal Eye Centre. The surgery is performed by “phacoemulsification” which is an ultrasound technique, and is the same technique performed in people with cataracts. New artificial lenses are often placed back inside the eye after cataract removal, to restore the best possible vision. Should surgery not be an option, advice and medications will be given to minimise the chances of long term problems or discomfort due to the cataracts.

Vision affecting cataracts can and do occur in horses, although surgery is possible in some cases, it is significantly more problematic

If you feel your pet may have cataracts, early assessment before vision is completely lost, gives the best possible outcome for maintaining long term vision.