Nuclear Sclerosis in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
What Is Nuclear Sclerosis?
Nuclear sclerosis (ns) is a disease where the lens cells are damaged or destroyed causing blindness. The condition occurs when there is an accumulation of debris inside the eyes called macular degeneration. This debris causes damage to the light-sensitive cells within your eye.
The most common cause of nsf is aging. The lens cells become less active with time.
These changes happen gradually over years and eventually lead to total loss of vision due to macular degeneration. Other factors such as diabetes, glaucoma, and certain medications may contribute to the development of this disease.
Symptoms of Nsf
The symptoms of nsf include:
Blurred vision due to the lens being cloudy (mydriasis). This results from the lens becoming cloudy because it no longer functions properly.
Mydriasis is a term used to describe blurry vision caused by debris accumulating inside the eye. Blurry vision can occur at any time during daylight hours, but typically develops after sunset and before sunrise. If left untreated, mydriasis will result in permanent blindness.
Difficulty adjusting to low light levels (night blindness). The body’s natural instinct is to protect the retina of the eye from sunlight.
When outdoors, this will cause the iris to narrow excessively (pinhole effect) so less light enters the eye. At night, the iris stays dilated so less light enters the eye. In extreme cases, this can cause permanent blindness due to retinal damage.
Difficulty adjusting to bright lights (light sensitivity). The lens of the eye focuses light onto the retina.
When the lens becomes damaged, it cannot properly adjust to sudden changes in light intensity. This results in difficulty adjusting to bright lights and affects vision during the day and night.
Aching or burning sensation in the eyes (photophobia). This is caused by the excessive dilatation of the pupil.
It occurs when entering bright environments or with sudden changes in light intensity.
A veterinary ophthalmologist can diagnose nsf through a medical history, eye examination, and diagnostic testing. Your veterinarian may refer you to a veterinary ophthalmologist if the ns is suspected.
A diagnosis of nsf is typically made based on your pet’s symptoms and findings during an ophthalmic examination.
Treatment for Nsf
Treating nsf involves supplementing the nutrients needed to maintain proper eye health. This includes vitamin A, C, E, and beta-carotene, as well as zinc and copper.
Most animals with nsf also have an underlying metabolic disease such as diabetes which must be treated as well. Supplementation typically begins with providing a nutrient-dense diet formulated for the treatment of nsf. If this is insufficient, then injections or eye drops containing the necessary nutrients may be used.
The best way to prevent nsf is to feed your pet a proper nutrient-dense diet as well as monitor for and treat any underlying conditions such as diabetes. Your pet’s eyes should also be examined on a regular basis.
tnf can progress rapidly, so early detection is essential for successful treatment.
Living and Managing Nsf
Your veterinarian or veterinary ophthalmologist will monitor your pet’s condition on a regular basis. They will do a thorough examination of your pet’s eyes to assess their condition.
Monitoring will also involve regular blood testing to ensure your pet’s medical conditions are managed properly. If ns is detected early, there is a good chance that vision can be saved in the affected eye. Delaying treatment can cause irreversible changes that will lead to complete blindness.
Your pet’s eyes should be carefully monitored on a regular basis. Changes in vision, such as blurriness or the appearance of floating colored spots or floaters, may be a sign of disease and should be reported to your veterinarian promptly.
If nsf is diagnosed and left untreated, blindness can result, so early detection is essential for successful treatment.
Once nsf is diagnosed and treated, maintaining proper nutrition is essential in helping the eye tissue heal properly. Treatment may also involve additional supplementation, such as antibiotic or antiviral medication to prevent secondary infection.
Unfortunately, in many cases, the damage to the eyes is irreversible, and full vision cannot be restored. Once nsf is advanced, most animals with nsf are legally blind and will require additional care to prevent them from hurting themselves.
Your pet will require minimal stimulation to keep them mentally stimulated as well as keeping their environment as “safe” as possible. Some pets do very well despite their condition and can live comfortably with their families.
The Bottom Line
Although nsf is a serious condition, it is one that can be managed provided you and your veterinarian work together to keep your pet healthy and happy. If you have any questions or concerns about your pet’s condition, don’t hesitate to speak with your veterinarian.
Your pet’s health and happiness is important to us, and we want to do everything we can to keep them that way.
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