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The Doctors senior producer, Brooke, and her husband, Mike, have a question about helping out their pup! Their little dog Ralph is developing cataracts and they want to know if there is anything to do to prevent it from worsening. Is it okay for a small dog to have surgery? Their other dog, Ralph's brother Java, suffered from cataracts and is now blind. Their mother also had cataracts so Brooke and Mike are wondering if it's genetic.
To answer their questions, The Doctors are joined by veterinary ophthalmologist Dr. Douglas Esson. Dr. Esson explains this is a common occurrence in pets and most often cataracts are genetic. Sometimes it's due to metabolic issues, like pets with diabetes, and that will predispose them to cataracts. There are two levels of addressing the issue.
The first is managing the inflammation and things associated with cataract formation. Even if the pet is not an eligible candidate for surgery, there are ways to manage the changes. Secondly, surgery can help a dog see again. The vet will need to run tests to evaluate if it is a good idea for that particular dog.
OB/GYN Dr. Nita Landry explains cataracts is when the natural lens inside the eye becomes cloudy so as a result, it seems like you are looking through a foggy windshield.
Dr. Esson offers to evaluate Brooke's dog and if he is a candidate, perform the surgery for free! Dr. Esson explains cataract surgery on dogs is pretty similar to what is done with people. They open up the eye and in most cases replace the lenses with a synthetic one and then manage any inflammation that may occur after surgery. Unlike in humans, who are typically awake, dogs are completely anesthetized.
In the U.S. we tend to diagnose cataracts early in humans, but it is still the number one cause of blindness worldwide, and it clearly affects our four-legged friends too!