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Ophthalmologic

This is an eye condition.

Hereditary Cataracts

What is Hereditary Cataracts?

Cataracts are the result of a progressive disease of the lens. The lens is normally a transparent structure of precisely organized fibers that lives in the pupil and focuses light. Cataracts cause the lens fibers to become disordered and turns the lens into a milky blue color. The lens is no longer transparent, light fails to reach the retina, and blindness is the end result. With this genetic mutation, dogs can develop cataracts at only a few weeks to months of age.

What are the signs & symptoms that develop in affected dogs?

Affected dogs will first show a cloudy haze in their pupil that becomes progressively more milky blue to crystalline in appearance. Vision will become progressively worse, and dogs may start bumping into furniture, be more hesitant on steps, and run into walls or doorways.

When do signs and symptoms develop?

While cataracts are typically a disease of the aged dog and can be associated with other eye diseases (these would be termed secondary cataracts), mutations in the HSF4 gene cause cataracts to form at an accelerated rate in comparatively young dogs (approximately 2-7 years of age).

How do vets diagnose this condition?

Veterinarians will examine your dog’s eyes, and may use a light or lens to assist in the diagnosis. Please note that there are other ocular diseases that are commonly mistaken for cataracts so be sure to have your dog evaluated by a veterinarian.

How is this condition treated?

Surgical correction by a veterinary ophthalmologist is currently the only treatment available to restore your dog’s vision. The other alternative is careful monitoring and lifestyle changes to make your dog’s blindness more manageable.

What actions should I take if my dog is affected?

  • The best care you can provide your dog is seeking the expert opinion of your veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and determining whether or not a specialty consult for surgery is required.