Cataract Surgery at the
Vet Vision Center
At the Vet Vision Center, we understand that healing your pet's eyes is only partly our job - as the pet owner, you are the primary caregiver and a crucial member of your pet's medical team. We hope the resources below will help you achieve this, but please call us at the office if you need additional guidance!
Cataracts in Dogs
Cataracts in dogs are common and can be caused by advanced age, diabetes mellitus, genetic predisposition, or inflammation in the eye (uveitis). Regardless of the cause, cataracts often cause inflammation within the eye as they form which requires treatment to prevent complications and/or permanent blindness. Cataract surgery can be performed in dogs to remove the cataract and restore vision. Small-incision surgery (phacoemulsification) is now the standard technique performed in both human and veterinary ophthalmology!
Frequently Asked Questions about Cataract Surgery in Dogs & Cats
How is cataract surgery performed in dogs & cats?
Cataract surgery in dogs and cats is performed much like it is in people, with the main difference being that animals must be placed under general anesthesia for the surgery. An operating microscope is used to magnify your pet's eye for surgery. A small incision is made at the top of the cornea and a microscopic probe is used to dissolve and remove the cloudy cataract material from within its lens shell. An artificial intraocular lens (IOL) is placed within the lens shell in most cases. Microscopic suture is used to close the incision, and your pet is recovered from anesthesia.
How successful is cataract surgery?
The success rate of cataract surgery is high - over 90% of patients undergoing surgery have their vision restored! Your pet's specific situation may carry additional risks that could affect the outcome, and would be discussed with you before surgery.
What are the possible complications of cataract surgery?
Complications after surgery are possible, with most being minor and treatable. Ulcers around the corneal incision and inflammation inside of the eye may occur after surgery but usually resolve with medications. In a small percentage of pets, serious complications may develop after surgery such as glaucoma, retinal detachment, or infection in the eye. Vision is often affected by these conditions, and affected pets may require added medications, additional procedures, or rarely eye removal.
What tests are needed before cataract surgery?
If the initial eye exam indicates that your pet may be a candidate for cataract surgery, additional testing will be scheduled. The back chamber of the eye must be tested to ensure it is healthy, since most cataracts block this area from examination. Most often, two tests are necessary - an electrical test of the retina called an ERG, and an eye ultrasound to obtain images of cataract and retina.
Your pet's systemic health must also be assessed to ensure they can safely undergo anesthesia. A physical examination and routine bloodwork are required - these may be performed at the VVC during your testing day, or by your primary veterinarian with results reported to us at least 1 week before surgery. Additional tests may be necessary based upon your pet's underlying health status.
What after care is required?
For the first two weeks after surgery your pet will need to be treated with eye drops and oral medications. After that, eye drops are gradually reduced based upon your pet’s recheck exam findings. Generally the long-term medical treatment plan is achieved by 2-3 months post-operatively.
A rigid E-collar is absolutely required at all times after surgery for the first 1-2 weeks. Your pet must not be allowed to rub at the eyes as they could disrupt the sutures, cause corneal ulcers, or damage the inside of the eye.
Long term, most pets are treated with an eye drop to minimize chronic post-surgical inflammation. Preventing such inflammation will decrease the chances of future complications like glaucoma and retinal detachment.
What follow-up exams are needed?
A typical post-operative recheck schedule is:
1 day post-op (complimentary)
1 week post-op (complimentary)
3 weeks post-op (complimentary)
6 weeks post-op
4 months post-op
8 months post-op
Post-operative recheck exams beyond the first 3 complimentary exams are associated with standard exam and testing charges. Additional visits or medications may be necessary based upon your pets recovery from surgery.
What's included in the cost of cataract surgery at the Vet Vision Center?
The quote that you've been provided for cataract surgery includes the following: -Pre-anesthetic examination, custom anesthesia plan
IV catheter, sedative & pain medication injections
General anesthesia with gas inhalant
Anesthetic monitoring (heart rate, oxygen levels, blood pressure)
Operating Room & Operating Microscope usage
Cataract surgery equipment, instruments & supplies
Phacoemulsification (surgical procedure to remove the cataract)
Intraocular lens (IOL) implant
Post-operative recovery & monitoring
Initial stock of post-operative eye drops and pills
The 1 day, 1 week, and 3 week post-op recheck exams
Important Information about Recovering from Cataract Surgery
Bathing & Grooming
You will not be able to groom or bathe your pet for at least 2 weeks following surgery to allow the incisions to fully heal. If your pet requires frequent grooming, we recommend that you have your pet groomed a few days before surgery. Additional shaving of fur around your pet’s eyes may be necessary for surgery.
It is crucial for your pet to have exercise restriction for the first few weeks after surgery to . Excessive activity affects the healing process and predisposes your pet to retinal detachments. Toys that stimulate head shaking or other rough play should be removed from your pet’s play area and it is recommended that you limit activity with other pets.
You will be provided with thorough post-operative monitoring instructions. If your pet develops any of the signs of eye pain or they experience a sudden change in vision at any time after surgery, you MUST seek veterinary attention immediately. If this occurs after VVC hours, you will need to seek care at a 24/7 emergency facility.