canine cataract surgery, Question for Angell vets

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    canine cataract surgery, Question for Angell vets

    The last time I was at the vets office I noticed two women there with mature small breed dogs and they were both scheduled for cataract removal.  Curious, is this a new trend?  Is it expensive?  Is it offered at Angell?  Is it worth the risk of anesthesia and the stress of it all for an older dog?
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    Cross-eyed spaniel may need cataract surgery

    By Dr. John De Jong / Ask the Vet | Sunday, May 20, 2012
    Photo by Faith Ninivaggi

    Dear Dr. John,

    Our 9-year-old cocker spaniel has started to develop cataracts and our vet has talked to us about surgery to correct the condition. He did inform us that we would probably have to see a specialist since he does not do the surgery.

    Strangely enough, it seems that the right eye is worse than the left one. Both eyes seem to be getting more dense or worse as time goes on. Does it make sense to proceed with surgery and will it benefit our dog? Is there a lot of risk and how successful is the procedure?


    Dear T.O.,

    Cataracts in dogs can be small or involve the entire lens. Cloudy, hazy eyes are not necessarily cataracts and may be lenticular sclerosis.

    The first thing I would advise is to have a second opinion from a veterinary ophthalmologist. While your veterinarian probably has made a correct assessment, those who do this kind of procedure would be the best judge of need and success.

    Cataracts are often inherited and can crop up at any age. They can be secondary to diabetes, caused by a drug reaction, trauma or a nutritional deficiency. Cataract disease in dogs is progressive and left untreated will often lead to further lens degeneration and other secondary problems.

    Early surgical intervention will benefit your dog, and there is not a great deal of risk if done properly by qualified individuals. The treatment nowadays is to do what is called phacoemulsification to fragment and then aspirate the lens material out of the eye through a minimally invasive opening at the limbus, which is where the sclera (white of the eye) meets the cornea. An artificial lens is then put in place in the lens capsular sac to re--create a normal situation.

    Lenses are now acrylic and can be folded. They are designed to make contact with the back of the eye, preventing cell movement or new lens fibers developing, reducing the need for potential follow-up procedures. Once performed, your dog’s vision can be restored to near normal, provided that there are no other underlying issues. Good luck!

    John de Jong, D.V.M., is the owner/operator of Boston Mobile Veterinary Clinic and CEO/director at Boston Animal Hospital.

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    Re: canine cataract surgery, Question for Angell vets

    Sunday, January 20, 2013 Claim Example: dog cataracts

    Rascal is a 7 year old mixed breed dog who has had a number of claims for cataracts. His dog mom noticed something was awry nearly two years ago and visited the opthamology specialist who suggested a wait and see approach. Three months later, Rascal had bilateral cataract surgery on his eyes.

    (Go to the link for complete article and what pet insurance covered)

    Rascal has made a very good recovery since his surgery. I think his mom's bank account is well on its way to recovery too.

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    Re: canine cataract surgery, Question for Angell vets

    It’s wonderful that our pets are living longer, giving us that many more years to spend with them.  Sadly, however, they fall victim to the same kinds of degenerative diseases and conditions that we get as they get into their elder years.  This is especially true of the eyes.  Cataract surgery for dogs isn’t a new trend per se, but we’re doing more of them now than we ever have before, because pet owners are demanding the best possible quality of life for their animal companions.


    I’m one of two veterinary ophthalmologists at Angell who perform the surgery on dogs.  Whether it’s worth the risk is entirely up to the pet owner—and of course depends on the pets’ overall heath and the general condition of their eyes.  Cataract evaluation appointments at Angell are set aside to give clients a longer time to discuss their pet’s condition with the ophthalmologist, as there are so many questions about the procedure, recovery, the financial aspects, etc.  It’s impossible to give a cost estimate with evaluating a pet because there are too many factors related to eye and overall health to consider before an estimate can be provided.


    If you would like more information about the procedure we’ve included some info on our Website that may prove helpful:


    I hope this is helpful for you!


    Dr. Martin Coster, Angell Animal Medical Center