What is a cataract?
Cataract is an eye condition where the eye lens, a transparent, see-through structure inside the eyes turns cloudy (Opaque). When cataract happens, the light can no longer get to the retina where information is sent to the brain. Therefore the dog becomes blind
Cataract generally happens after 5 to 6 years of age, but it may be an Inherited condition passed down from the Mother or Father. If it is hereditary, then it will be there from the birth.
Cataract is an inherited disorder that commonly affects Shih Tzu and other similar breeds. There are many risk factors that contribute to this condition, such as diabetes. Cataract is not a painful condition though, and it may be treated with surgery, but at an expensive cost. Surgery where a device is used to break up and remove the cloudy cataract is used to improve the vision. This is called Phacoemulsification, or Phaco for short, aims to limit the contact with the eye during the operation and it has shown good results.
What are the disease signs?
Can I check my dog at home for cataract?
What are the causes?
The elements that make up the eye changes over time, and this is an inherited condition, cataract may also be secondary to other general diseases like diabetes. Diabetes results in the increase of sugar level in the bloodstream, and because of this, glucose is diffused into the lenses and is transformed into other elements that cause lens problems. Other eye diseases, such as glaucoma, are also known to cause cataracts.
Is Cataract dangerous for my Shih Tzu? Can this make him blind?
Yes, unfortunately without treatment the condition may result in blindness.
Is Cataract painful for my Shih Tzu? Does it hurt my dog?
Usually, cataract is not painful for dogs, however more damage may occur without treatment.
Does cataract in Shih Tzu, spread?
Cataract cannot be transferred between animals. It is not painful but may cause damage to the eye if it is not treated, and after a certain amount of time the blindness may become worse.
The opacity (not being able to see through) of the crystalline is due to changes in its the protein composition, this is an inherited condition. Cataract may also be secondary to other general diseases like diabetes. Diabetes results in the increase of blood glucose level and thus, glucose is diffused (moved into and mixed) into the lenses. Thus is transformed into other compounds that cause lens opacification. Other eye diseases, like glaucoma, progressive retinal atrophy or lens luxation are also reasons for causing cataract.
Cataract is not an infectious disease and is thus not contagious, it is not painful but it may cause eye damage if not treated, with time blindness become more severe.
Medical treatment is used to help with symptoms.
Eye drops which help to reduce the swelling and medicine that helps to increase the dilation of the pupil (Mydriatics) will delay the beginning (onset) of complications. But this method is not effective on its own, and may only be the last choice when surgery is not an option due to the higher cost of cataract surgery.
The best treatment of cataracts is based on surgery. Before the surgery, a check up on the eye will be made (using ultrasound) to ensure the structure of the inside of the eye is normal. The technique widely used is Phacoemulsification, it is based on ultrasonic fragmentation of the opaque lens followed by an implantation of a new artificial lens. After the surgery, antibiotics will be prescribed and a special collar is placed on the dog for 2 weeks.
Dogs with diabetes are at a higher risk of having eye problems which keep coming back and their eye issues are less likely to heal properly.
Shih Tzu cataract Surgery cost
Surgery is expensive. The cost can range from $1800 to $2500. Surgery is the best option because it has a high success rate.
You can expect some inflammation inside the dog’s eyes after the surgery. This is treated by using eye drops which will be prescribed by the vet.
There will need to be re-examinations after surgery.
Recovery after surgery has a rate of 60 percent to 70 percent (60% – 70%).
After surgery, topical antibiotics and anti-inflammatories are prescribed, an Elizabethan collar is placed for 2 weeks.
Without surgery, complications may occur like uveitis, glaucoma, lens luxation, retinal detachment!
Surgery is expensive, costs range from 1800$ to 2500$ and has a good success rate.
Recovery after surgery has a rate of 60% to 70%.
Dogs with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing chronic eye problems. As uveitis and conjunctivitis, corneal ulcerations and retinal detachment are then less likely to heal properly.
Use of adapted diets for dogs with diabetes helps to avoid rapid installation of cataract and its complications.
Possible Surgery Complications
Inflammation of the eye will occur, no matter how smoothly the operation goes.
An infection may occur; however this is very rate.
Bleeding may occur at the time of the surgery and is usually nothing to worry about.
Fortunately, for dogs suffering from this disease, it is treatable and the success rate of the operation is high.
Most patients go on to live a long and fulfilling life.
Use of special diets for dogs with diabetes may help to avoid the onset of cataracts and help with the issues that come with it.
If your dog has any medical issue, please consult your own veterinarian for treatment and further advice!