Cataract Surgery for Dogs: Risks and Benefits
Risk #1 – Your Dog Might Not Be Able To See Well Enough After Cataract Surgery For Him To Benefit From It
The risk of blindness after cataract surgery is very low. There are several reasons why your dog might not benefit from it.
First of all, most cats have normal vision, while some don’t. Second, the cataracts are usually located in the back of the eye, so they won’t affect vision at all. Third, there are other treatments available which can improve eyesight such as glasses or contact lenses. Fourth, if your dog’s eyesight isn’t good enough before surgery then it will never get better afterwards. Fifth, even if your dog does see well after surgery he may still experience problems with his balance and coordination. Sixth, if your dog doesn’t need cataract surgery then he probably wouldn’t benefit either. Seventh, you could try to convince him to get it done anyway. Eighth, you could just decide not to do it because of the risks.
Cataract surgery is a fairly safe procedure for humans, but it is much riskier for dogs. If your dog does develop a complication, you must take him back to the veterinarian right away.
Complications can occur during the surgery or afterwards. It is also very risky if your dog already has a weak immune system, heart disease, or another serious condition. You should also wait to get the surgery until your dog is completely healthy.
Risk #2 – Glaucoma Might Develop Afterwards
Most of the time, getting cataract surgery will prevent glaucoma from developing, but it still could. If your dog already has glaucoma before the surgery then he will most likely develop it afterwards as well.
Glaucoma is a condition which involves a buildup of pressure in your pet’s eyes. It can result in blindness if not treated properly.
If your veterinarian diagnoses your dog with glaucoma after the surgery, your dog will have to take several eye drops on a daily basis. These drops are very inexpensive and very effective at lowering the pressure.
They can also be combined with other drugs to minimize side effects. Your veterinarian will advise you on whether or not this is necessary.
Risk #3 – Anesthesia Can Have Serious Side Effects In Dogs
Dogs do experience side effects from anesthesia. It is very rare for a dog to die during anesthesia, but it does happen.
Like humans, some dogs just have a greater risk of developing complications when they go under. These complications can range from a faster heart rate to liver damage or even death.
Your veterinarian will weigh the risk of these side effects with the benefits your dog will receive from the procedure. If he decides that it isn’t safe for your pet to go under then you will have to consider other types of treatment.
You won’t have to worry about your dog choking on his vomit or contracting pneumonia because he won’t be able to move while under. The only major risk is that the anesthesia could cause a serious complication.
Risk #4 – Blindness
The risk of blindness is very small. Fortunately, most dogs regain their full eyesight after the surgery.
However, there are rare cases in which blindness does occur. The exact cause isn’t well understood, but it is usually due to excess bleeding within the eye. Most of the time this can be treated and reversed with laser treatment or some other similar procedure.
Sources & references used in this article:
- Current concepts in the management of canine cataract: a survey of techniques used by surgeons in Britain, Europe and the USA and a review of recent literature (DL Williams, IP Boydell, RD Long – Veterinary record, 1996 – veterinaryrecord.bmj.com)
- Update on veterinary cataract surgery (DA Wilkie, CMH Colitz – Current opinion in ophthalmology, 2009 – journals.lww.com)
- Outcome of cataract surgery I: A prospective, observational study (P BERNTH‐PETERSEN – Acta ophthalmologica, 1982 – Wiley Online Library)