Cataracts or Old Eyes?

As pets age, changes to the fibres in the lens of the eye can begin to cause a cloudy appearance in the eye. This is a normal ageing process labelled by veterinarians as nuclear sclerosis. It usually occurs slowly and affects both eyes. Nuclear sclerosis can be easily confused with the more sinister formation of cataracts. Unlike nuclear sclerosis, cataracts are not formed via aging but result from an interruption to the fibres within the lens, often a result of an underlying pathological process such as diabetes, trauma, inflammation, toxins, age-related disease. When young animals are affected with cataract, there is generally a genetic component. Unlike nuclear sclerosis, light is unable to penetrate through cataracts. Cataracts may affect one or both eyes and may suddenly develop. Mild cataracts, which may also be called immature or incipient cataracts may not affect vision. More serve mature or hyper-mature cataracts may cause partial or complete blindness and cause inflammation within the eye. This inflammation is known as uveitis and can be severe and painful. Surgical removal and replacement of the diseased lens can be performed to cure cataracts. In cases where this is not an option, close monitoring of the eye for inflammation or glaucoma (increased pressure), anti-inflammatory therapy and in severe cases, enucleation (removal of the eye) may be indicated. It’s a good idea to check in with your local veterinarian as soon as you notice changes in your pets eyes as swift medical management, if needed, is best initiated early.