A cataract is an opacity or cloudiness in the crystalline lens of the eye which prevents light from passing through to the retina and causes blurriness and loss of functional vision. There are many different causes of cataracts in dogs. The most common type of cataracts is inherited cataracts, which can occur at any age. In young dogs inherited cataracts are frequently called juvenile cataracts. Another common type of cataracts is diabetic cataracts, which can develop very quickly. For more information on cataracts and diabetic cataracts please download our printable brochures found in the online forms section of our new client page.

Diabetic Cataracts are listed as a separate entity due to their frequency and sometimes aggressive nature associated with a rapid development. When diabetic cataracts develop rapidly, they may stimulate an inflammatory process (hypermature cataracts) and can often be considered a medical, if not surgical, emergency. Permanent damage or loss of vision can occur if not treated properly. Early evaluation is extremely helpful, even if functional vision is still normal. Any pet owner with a diabetic pet should be aware of the rapid development of cataracts and we encourage bringing in their pet for evaluation before vision is lost or inflammation occurs. Diabetics DO NOT need to be well controlled to be a good candidate for cataract surgery. Waiting until your pet’s diabetes totally controlled can lead to permanent irreversible loss of vision. Early evaluation cannot be overstressed. The inflammation seen in this process, cataract induced uveitis (hypermature cataract), is seen below.

Hypermature Cataract with Lens-Induced Uveitis Lens induced uveitis is an inflammation that is caused by liquefied protein leaking out of lens capsule or bag when a cataract become overly mature or hypermature. This is especially common in diabetics due to the rapid development of the cataract and swelling of the lens fibers. Cataract induced uveitis can have significant and sometimes devastating sequelae, including cloudy, red, inflamed eye with inflammatory precipitates in the anterior chamber. Adhesion of the iris to the lens (posterior synechia), blockage of the drain (normal outflow mechanisms) leading to increased pressure (glaucoma), detachment of the retina, even a generalized inflammatory process involving all layers of the eye (panophthalmitis).