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Cataract Surgery for Dogs

Cataracts are a relatively common eye condition in people in dogs that can result in blurred vision and eventual blindness, but surgery can help to restore sight in many cases. Today, our Smyrna vets share a little about cataract surgery in dogs, and what you can expect if your dog has cataract surgery.

What are cataracts in dogs?

A lens similar to a camera lens is located within each of your dog's eyes. This lens works to focus your dog's vision and provide clear vision. A cataract is an opacification or cloudiness that can occur on all or part of the lens, interfering with the focus of a clear image on the retina and impairing your dog's ability to see clearly.

How can cataracts in dogs be treated?

Cataracts in dogs are frequently surgically removed and replaced with an artificial lens. However, not all dogs with cataracts are good candidates for this surgery. If your dog has a pre-existing retinal detachment, retinal degeneration, glaucoma, or severe inflammation of the eyes, cataract surgery may not be an option.

When it comes to saving your dog's vision, early diagnosis of conditions such as cataracts is important. Regular twice-yearly wellness exams give your vet the opportunity to check your dog's eyes for signs of developing cataracts and recommend treatment before they become more serious.

In dogs diagnosed with cataracts that are good candidates for surgery, the sooner the surgery can be performed, the better their long-term outcome is likely to be.

If your pup isn't suitable for surgery rest assured that, although your pooch will remain blind they can still enjoy a very good quality of life. With a little practice, your dog will soon adapt and navigate their home environment well by using their other senses to guide them. 

What is the cataract surgery process for dogs?

Each veterinary hospital will handle things differently, but in most cases, you will drop off your dog either the morning of surgery or the night before. While some special care is required for diabetic dogs, your veterinarian will provide you with detailed feeding and care instructions prior to surgery day. Make sure to carefully follow your vet's instructions.

Pre-Surgery Testing

  • Your dog will be put to sleep prior to the procedure, and an ultrasound will be done to look for problems like a detached retina or a ruptured (bursting) lens.Your dog's retina will also undergo an electroretinogram (ERG) to ensure that it is functioning properly. Unfortunately, if these tests reveal any unexpected problems, your dog might not be a good candidate for cataract surgery.

Surgical Procedure

  • Under a general anesthetic, cataract surgery will be carried out. Additionally, a muscle relaxant will be given to aid in positioning your dog's eye for the procedure. Phacoemulsification is a method used to remove cataracts in canines. The same technique used in cataract surgery on humans is used in this procedure to disassemble and remove the dog's cloudy lens from its eye. After the cataract-containing lens has been removed, an artificial lens implant (intraocular lens, or IOL) can be inserted into the eye to enable images to be clearly focused onto the retina.


  • Typically the vet performing your dog's ocular surgery will recommend that your dog stay overnight for monitoring, following cataract surgery. Intensive at-home aftercare will be required following surgery including the use of several types of eye drops, multiple times each day.

What is the success rate of cataract surgery in dogs?

Many dogs will have some vision restored by the very next day, but typically it will take a few weeks for vision to settle as the eye adjusts to the effect of surgery and the presence of the artificial lens. Provided that the rest of the eye is in good working order, cataract surgery in dogs is considered a very successful treatment with a high rate of positive outcomes.

Once they are healed from surgery, 95% of dogs immediately regain their vision. The long-term prognosis for your dog can be provided by your veterinarian, but in general, at 1 year and 2 years postoperatively, 90% and 80% of vision, respectively, are maintained after surgery. Good post-operative care and routine eye exams and monitoring at the vet are essential for positive long-term results, both after surgery and for the duration of your dog's life.

Are there risks with cataract surgery for dogs?

All surgical procedures on animals or humans carry some level of risk. Complications from cataract surgery in dogs are uncommon, but vets have seen corneal ulcers and pressure elevations within the eye after cataract surgery.Taking your dog to the veterinary surgeon for a follow-up exam is critical for preventing complications after surgery.

What is the recovery like for dogs that have cataract surgery?

The initial healing period after cataract surgery in dogs is approximately 2 weeks. During that time, your dog must wear an E-collar (cone) at all times and be restricted to leash walks only. During this time, you will also need to give your dog several medications, including eye drops and oral medications. It is critical to carefully follow your vet's instructions in order to achieve a positive outcome for your dog's vision.

Depending on the results of the 2 week follow-up appointment, your dog's medications may be reduced, however, some dogs will need to remain on medication permanently.

How much is cataract surgery for dogs?

It's best to contact your vet directly for the pricing of any surgery, including cataract surgery. They should be able to give you a more accurate estimate.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your dog losing their vision to cataracts? Contact our Smyrna vets to book an examination for your pooch.

New Patients Welcome

Are you looking for a vet in Smyrna, Georgia? Cumberland Animal Clinic is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about animal healthcare. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

(770) 433-1414