Cataracts are cloudy spots that develop on the lens of a pet's eyes. If small, they may have very little effect, if any, on a dog's or cat's vision. However, larger ones can cloud up the entire lens of an eye and severely limit a pet's ability to see. Additionally, if cataracts are left untreated, they could lead to glaucoma, blindness or lens luxation.
The most common cause of cataracts is genetic inheritance. Dog breeds that tend to be more susceptible to cataracts include Golden Retrievers, Boston Terriers and Cocker Spaniels.
Although cataracts are more common in dogs, cats can still develop this condition. Feline breeds with a higher risk of developing cataracts include Himalayans, Persians and Bengals.
In addition to genetic inheritance, cataracts can also be caused by:
An injury to the eye
Diabetic dogs are especially at risk of developing cataracts. In fact, 80% of dogs with diabetes will develop cataracts within a year of their diagnosis. Fortunately for felines, diabetic cataracts are rare in cats.
Signs that your pet may have cataracts
Cloudy appearance in the eye
Eye color change or change in the size or shape of the pupil
Rubbing or scratching at the eyes
Clumsiness or bumping into things as a pet's vision worsens
How are cataracts treated?
If your pet has a cataract, your veterinarian may recommend administering drops that contain anti-inflammatory drugs or steroids to their eyes. These will not cure the cataracts but could reduce a pet's chances of developing other conditions, such as glaucoma.
Currently, surgery is the only option for removing cataracts. During this procedure, the veterinarian will remove the cloudy lens and replace it with an artificial implant. The success rate for this surgery is high for both cats and dogs, and most pets regain their vision immediately postoperatively.
Unfortunately, surgery is not an option for all pets, including ones with glaucoma or retinal degeneration.
How much does treatment cost?
Cataract surgery can cost between $2,000 and $3,000 for one eye, and approximately $3,500 to $4,500 or higher to repair both eyes. This cost includes the surgery, examinations, anesthesia, diagnostic testing, hospital costs and follow-up appointments.
Does pet insurance cover cataract surgery?
In most cases, the treatment for cataracts is covered by pet insurance. There are a few exceptions, however. For example, insurance companies won't cover pre-existing conditions. In addition, some insurers have a per-incident maximum, which means that you won't be reimbursed for any costs that exceed that limit.
Cataract surgery is not cheap, but pet insurance may help pay for a substantial portion of this typically very successful surgery. To learn more about pet insurance and the conditions that it covers, please contact us today.
Lizz Caputo is a Content Strategist at Figo, animal enthusiast, and owner of a rescued senior American Bully. Her hobbies include checking out new restaurants in her area, boxing, and petting dogs of all shapes and sizes.