Cataracts & Blindness in Diabetic Dogs

One of the most prevelant side effects of diabetes in dogs are cataracts and eventual blindness. In fact, about 75% of diabetic dogs will develop cataracts within the first year of diagnosis. 

 

Contrary to popular belief, a cataract isn't a clouding of the eye lens--it's a clouding of the sack that holds the lens. There are 3 main stages of cataract development.

 

Incipient Cataracts
 

Incipient cataracts are the beginning stages of cataract formation. You may see a slight clouding of the eye, though overall vision shouldn't be affected too noticeably. If the clouding increases, or if you notice behavior changes in your dog due to sight loss, it may be a signal that the cataract has moved beyond the incipient stage.

 
Mature Cataracts
 

A cataract has matured when there is complete clouding of the eye and total vision loss. As cataracts progress, the pupil will go from a black to a bluish or even white color. It's very important to visit a veterinarian before cataracts have reached the mature stage.

 
Hyper-Mature Cataracts
 

Left untreated, a mature cataract can develop into a hyper-mature cataract, which is characterized by a wrinkling and shriveling of the lens. At this point, surgery is the only option to save your dog's vision. 

 

Treatment of Cataracts in Dogs
 

If your dog's vision is seriously affected by a cataract, visit a veterinarian right away. If the cataract is a result of diabetes, it's possible to reverse the progress by changing your dog's diet and insulin intake. If the cataract has progressed far enough, surgery is also an option. It's important though to undergoe surgery sooner rather than later--a mature or hyper-mature cataract is much more difficult to treat. 

 

Additional Resources
 

Canine Diabetes: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, and DietCJ Puotinen and Mary Straus, Whole Dog Journal

Disclaimer

Dogabetix is a community for diabetic dog owners--we are not licensed professionals. Before making any important decisions for treating your diabetic dog, please consult a veterinarian