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Dear Daisy Dog

Sammy, my 12-year-old dachshund mix, has trouble seeing. My veterinarian examined him and diagnosed cataracts. What can you tell me about cataracts?

Daisy Responds

Old-age cataracts are fairly common in dogs, especially small-breed dogs. Dachshunds also suffer from inherited cataracts, which may develop at a younger age.

Cataracts, opaque areas in the eye’s otherwise transparent lens, can form in diabetic dogs, too, so you should ask your veterinarian to rule out diabetes.

While some cataracts remain small and don’t affect vision noticeably, Sammy’s cataracts already impair his vision.

My sister Rebecca and I have poor vision, and we can testify that living with visual problems is always frustrating and sometimes frightening.

We’re sure Sammy feels the same, so we suggest you consult a veterinarian who specializes in ophthalmology.

A veterinary ophthalmologist can remove the cataracts through phacoemulsification, the same procedure used to extract human cataracts.

High-frequency ultrasonic vibration breaks the diseased lens into tiny fragments, which are suctioned out through a small incision.

The ophthalmologist can then implant an artificial intraocular lens to improve Sammy’s near vision.

This surgery has a high success rate, especially if it is done before the cataract becomes hypermature.

At that point, lens proteins may escape from the lens capsule and cause a painful inflammation called uveitis, and eventually glaucoma, increased pressure within the eye.

So, Rebecca and I advise that you make an appointment with a veterinary ophthalmologist before Sammy’s vision deteriorates further.

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