BEFORE CATARACT SURGERY
WHAT IS A CATARACT?
A cataract is an opacification of the lens. The lens is located inside the eye, behind the pupil and is normally
clear. The function of the lens is to help focus visual images on the retina, which then generate electrical impulses that are transmitted to the brain. When a
cataract is present, the lens becomes “cloudy”. A cataract often results in blindness because light and images can no longer reach the retina.
WHAT CAUSES A CATARACT?
The most common cause of cataracts in dogs is an inherited genetic defect. Other causes include senile
changes, diabetes, inflammatory ocular diseases, retinal disease, penetrating injury to the eye, and nutritional deficiency.
HOW CAN CATARACTS BE TREATED?
The only treatment for cataracts is surgical removal. (As in human medicine, the technique of
phacoemulsification is used to remove cataracts in dogs). With the aid of an operating microscope, phacoemulsification involves creating a very small incision in the cornea and entering the eye with a
probe that ultrasonically breaks up and removes the cataractous lens. The eye will stay inflated throughout this procedure. Small, dissolvable sutures are place to close the surgical incision. After removing the lens and cataract, an artificial lens is implanted into the eye to allow proper focusing of the light images on the retina preventing “farsightedness”.
WHAT IS THE SURGICAL SUCCESS RATE?
With the use of phacoemulsification and proper pre and post-operative medications, the success rate of
cataract surgery is greater than 90%. The presence of inflammation inside the eye prior to surgery can
significantly lower the success rate. The most common causes of failure after cataract surgery are related to uncontrolled inflammation inside the eye, retinal detachment, and glaucoma.
WHAT CAN BE EXPECTED BEFORE AND AFTER SURGERY?
Cataract surgery requires general anesthesia. A recent physical examination and preoperative screening blood tests performed by your family veterinarian, will be required. If the surgery is successful, vision should be present and improve over the first 1-2 weeks. The typical response after cataract surgery is a slightly “red” eye, slightly increased ocular discharge and some degree of squinting. These signs represent a normal response to cataract surgery and should resolve over the first 2-6 weeks.
To ensure the best visual outcome, post-operative medications need to be administered frequently for several weeks after surgery. Treatment will taper off gradually over the course of six months post surgery. Many patients will require long term, low dose, eye drop treatments for life. Follow up examinations with your veterinary ophthalmologist and strict adherence to the post-operative treatment instructions are important and critical for long-term success after cataract surgery. Post-operative success requires a life-long commitment to follow up care.
A detailed surgery estimate will be provided at the time of patient evaluation. The surgery estimate does not include the initial comprehensive exam. However, it does include all costs incurred on the day of surgery (general anesthesia, surgery fee, intraocular lens implantation, ERGs, ultrasounds, overnight hospitalization in ICU, and the first three scheduled post operative exams). Refill medications, after hour emergency exams, and additional follow up exams are not included.
PLEASE FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS BELOW PRIOR TO CATARACT SURGERY:
- See your regular veterinarian for pre-anesthesia bloodwork and urinalysis prior to surgery.
- Anti-inflammatory eye drops are typically given 1 day to 1 week prior to surgery.
- Please bathe and/or groom your pet prior to surgery.
- It is imperative there be no food after 8:00 p.m.
- the night before surgery. Water is OK.
- In most cases, your pet will require an overnight stay in our hospital. In preparation please bring all medications and any special dietary foods your pet may require.
- Diabetic patients should be given only 1/2 of their regular insulin dose on the morning of their surgery. Please bring your pet’s insulin along with any other medications. Blood Glucose levels will be monitored closely throughout your pets stay at our hospital.
ON SURGERY DAY:
- Our hospital will contact you immediately after your pet’s surgery. This will usually be mid to late afternoon. Please refrain from calling the hospital.
- Your pet will be spending the night in our hospital’s ER Service ICU ward. Our hospital is staffed 24/7 with doctors and technicians.
- Your pet will be required to wear an E-collar for one week after surgery.