fbpx Skip to Content

Dogs with white eyes: Why cataracts are serious

Dogs with white eyes: Why cataracts are serious

You’ve probably seen dogs with white eyes, or maybe your dog’s eyes are turning pale and cloudy. Well, this is can be due to different medical conditions. However, one thing is for sure white eyes in dogs are something that should never be ignored.

ALSO READ Why Are My Dog’s Eyes Red? Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

White, cloudy eyes can really be a symptom of many eye problems, and this could actually be even very painful for your dog.

Now, we don’t want to alarm you, cloudy eyes in dogs can be a natural part of aging too.

Dogs with white eyes – Cataracts

We already have an article titled “Cloudy Eyes In Dogs: What Is Causing Them?” which in detail explains why dogs get white eyes. There we take a look at all of the possible reasons why your dog’s eyes are turning white and cloudy.

You can find the article HERE.

In this article we’re going to take a closer look at the issue of cataracts in dogs, what causes them and what you can do do help.

Cataracts in dogs

You’ve probably heard of people having cataracts in their eyes, well older dogs can get them too! The good news is that there is hope and you can actually help your dog.

But what are cataracts even? In short, cataracts are any cloudiness that develops within the natural lens of the eye.

ALSO READ Dogs With Green Eyes: The Five Most Popular Breeds

Mark Bobofchak, DVM, DACVO, a veterinary ophthalmologist at Eye Care for Animals in Akron, Ohio, explained this for DailyPaws in more detail.

“The purpose of the lens is to focus light onto the retina, which is responsible for actually absorbing the light and transferring it into a nerve signal that is transmitted to the brain to be processed into an image. The result of cataracts is that light is unable to reach the retina. That doesn’t mean your dog is unable to see at all, just that their vision becomes very blurry.”

Mark Bobofchak

Basically, it’s as if you’re looking through a foggy window. Your dog can still see lights and how objects are moving around, but they have no real shape, they just look like blurs.

how dogs with white eyes see the world
How dogs with cataracts see the world

Reasons why dogs get cataracts

It might sometimes seem that only older dogs get cataracts. However, that is not true. In fact, young to middle-aged dogs can get cataracts too. This is because cataracts are most commonly hereditary or occur due to diabetes.

So if you notice that your younger dog seems to have cloudy eyes, it might be time for a vet check up to see if your dog might actually have diabetes.

ALSO READ Dog Eye Stye: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Besides age and diabetes, there are multiple other causes of cataracts in dogs including:

  • Injury or trauma to the eye
  • Uveitis
  • Glaucoma, or high pressure in the eye
  • Lens luxation
  • Aging or senile cataracts
  • Diabetes – this type of cataract often forms very quickly

Signs your dog has cataracts

Are white, cloudy eyes the only sign of cataracts? Well, that is probably the first sign you’re going to notice. Besides this, your dog might also seem a bit lost and have issues distinguishing what is right in front of them.

However, when it comes to cloudy eyes, that doesn’t always have to be due to cataracts. Dogs over the age of 9 actually experience a very normal change which causes their eyes to turn white. This change is called lenticular sclerosis and the good news is, it generally doesn’t cause any vision problems to your dog.

ALSO READ Why Are My Dog’s Eyes Red?

But, how will you know the difference? To determine whether your dog has cataracts or lenticular sclerosis you will have to set up an appointment at the vet’s office. Only after examination your veterinarian can determine what the issue with your dog is.

Based on the eye assessment your vet will know what the course of action will be.

What to do if your dog has cataracts

If you’ve taken your dog to the vet and for sure know that your dog has cataracts, then your veterinarian will probably prescribe a medicated eye drop. The eye drops your vet prescribes can either be a topical anti-inflammatory or a steroid, and is only there to reduce inflammation of the eye.

ALSO READ Dog Eye Ulcer: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

However, these eye drops won’t heal your dogs eyes, surgery to remove cataracts is the best option. According to experts, cataract surgery is 90 percent effective and a dog’s vision is often significantly improved.

Of course, you should always talk to your vet and consult in order to find out if surgery is really necessary. Sometimes the cataract is so small and non-progressive that your vet won’t recommend surgery. Simply because that cataract has basically minimal effect on your dog’s vision.