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Cataracts, Blindness, and Diabetic Dogs

Diabetic dogs can live healthy lives. Unfortunately, a common complication of diabetes in dogs is cataracts (cloudy lenses). In fact, 75% of dogs develop cataracts and blindness in both eyes within one year of being diagnosed with diabetes. The cataracts develop very quickly—sometimes overnight! If untreated, the cataracts cause intraocular inflammation called Lens-Induced Uveitis (LIU) that harms the eyes by causing glaucoma (increased intraocular pressure). If the LIU is uncontrolled and glaucoma develops, cataract surgery might not be possible. Glaucoma causes a chronic headache (similar to a migraine). Once it is apparent that cataracts are forming, it is important to have your pet examined by a veterinary ophthalmologist as soon as possible. You can read about cataract surgery in our article Cataracts in Dogs, here on this website. Dr. Terri McCalla can speak with you to answer any questions you might have prior to your visit to Animal Eye Care. Prior to your visit, we can also give you the name of a pet owner to speak with, who's diabetic pet had cataract surgery. Just ask us!

Even if cataract surgery is not an option for your pet, an ophthalmic examination is very important, to help you decide what to do for your pet's eyes. If glaucoma has occurred, your pet might not cue you that it has a headache. If LIU is present, your pet might not cue you that the eyes are inflamed and uncomfortable. These eye problems are often subtle, but if present, medical treatment is required—perhaps even lifetime treatment.

Diabetic dogs actually tend to have a better surgical success rate after cataract surgery than “normal” dogs with cataracts. The surgery is same-day surgery, with no overnight hospital stay. Both eyes are done at the same time. However, if cataract surgery is not possible, dogs usually adjust to their vision loss and are happy, as long as the eyes are comfortable. There are books and websites that can help your pet if vision loss is permanent:, and the book Living with Blind Dogs by Caroline Levin.

Animal Eye Care is located just 20 miles south of the Peace Arch Canada/U.S. border— just a 45 minute drive from cities in the southern Vancouver suburbs. Dr. McCalla will examine your pet and answer all your questions and concerns, with the care and attention that you and your pet deserve.

Because 3 out of every 4 diabetic dogs develop blinding cataracts, and because the cataracts develop quickly and cause blindness that can be permanent if surgery is not performed ASAP, it is important that you educate yourself now about your pet's eye care options, when and if cataracts form. Animal Eye Care is here to help you and your pet—just give us a call!


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