It can be worrying when we suddenly notice that our dog has cloudy eyes. As fur parents, we can’t help but wonder whether our furry pal is feeling pain, losing their vision, and/or if it is an indication of something more serious. So what does it mean and what can we do to help our dog?
Cloudy eyes in dogs are often characterized by the appearance of a misty film that covers their eye/s. This cloudiness in a dog’s eye may or may not affect their vision, depending on what is causing it. A number of eye problems may show signs of cloudiness in a dog’s eye, some of which may cause pain. Let’s get to know more about cloudy eyes in dogs below.
This article was reviewed by our expert veterinarian, Chris Vanderhoof (DMV).
What Do Cloudy Eyes in Dogs Mean?
When you see cloudy eyes in dogs, it could just be a natural sign of aging. However, cloudy eyes may also be a sign of certain eye problems that need to be addressed. Therefore, a visit to the vet is recommended when we start seeing signs of cloudiness in our dog’s eyes as it may not be easy to determine what is normal from what is not.
The veterinarian may be able to examine the cause and prescribe treatment if needed, and consulting with them is best when it comes to knowing more about our dog’s eye health, but it is also helpful to be aware of what conditions may be causing cloudy eyes in dogs and what other signs we should look out for.
Nuclear Sclerosis in Dogs
Also called lenticular sclerosis in dogs, nuclear sclerosis is common in senior dogs. Many dogs in their senior years may develop a hazy film with a bluish hue in their lens called nuclear sclerosis, which appears similar to cataracts. However, unlike cataracts, nuclear sclerosis rarely results in impaired vision. It can affect a dog’s ability to focus, however.
Nuclear sclerosis in dogs occurs when there is a change in a dog’s eye lens, usually brought about by aging and often affects both eyes. This condition does not need treatment since it doesn’t cause significant problems.
However, it would help to talk about our dog’s eye health with a veterinarian for us to know what we can expect as our dog with nuclear sclerosis gets older.
Do note however that dogs with nuclear sclerosis may still also develop cataracts, so regular checkups may be necessary for your vet to check on possible cataract formation.
Cataracts in Dogs
For the eye to see sharp and clear images, the lens directs light that it receives to the retina, which is the film at the back of the eye that allows the brain to process information to form an image. This becomes possible when the lens retains its transparency. However, when white defects develop in the eye’s lens, it loses transparency, and this eye condition is what we call cataracts.
According to research, just like people, dogs may develop cataracts - that white opaqueness that can develop in the lens inside the eye caused by abnormal lens metabolism.
Dogs that are young to those that are middle-aged may get cataracts usually due to hereditary causes, trauma, or as a side effect of diabetes mellitus. Oftentimes, it can develop as a dog ages.
Note that there are some dog breeds that are more susceptible to getting cataracts than other breeds. Cataracts caused by genetics may start during puppyhood or as the dog ages, depending on the kind of cataracts that were inherited. And most of the time, it develops in both eyes.
Among the breeds that are more prone to cataracts are: Boston Terrier, Bichon Frise, French Bulldog, Australian Sheperd, Labrador Retriever, Miniature Schnauzer, American Staffordshire Terrier, Siberian Husky, Poodle, Silky Terrier, West Highland White Terrier, Havanese, and Cocker Spaniel.
In the early stages of cataracts, it may not be easily detected and may not cause much vision loss. However, when it’s in the advanced stage, it may lead to blindness. Luckily, cataracts can be removed with surgery if they aren't too advanced.
The process involves removing the affected lens and replacing it with an artificial one in order for vision to be restored. When done before the advanced stage, surgery for cataracts has a success percentage of 90-95%.
Apart from impairing vision, cataracts may also lead to other more serious problems such as glaucoma. Because of this, early diagnosis is important so that treatment may be given before possible complications arise.
This eye condition happens when there is high pressure in the eye, which leads to the eye structures being damaged. Glaucoma will cause your dog pain, and an extremely high intraocular pressure is an emergency situation as this can result in permanent damage to your dog's optic nerve, which may lead to blindness.
Glaucoma may be classified into two kinds: primary glaucoma or secondary glaucoma. Primary glaucoma is inherited and may affect several dog breeds such as Chow Chows, Beagles, English Cocker Spaniels, Russel Terriers, Siberian Husky, Chinese Shar-Pei, and Norweigan Elkhound. Meanwhile, secondary glaucoma is due to other conditions such as cataracts, inflammation, or cancer.
Apart from having cloudy eyes, other symptoms of glaucoma are: redness and irritation in the white portion of the eye, swelling, a tinge of red or blue, dilated pupils, squinting, and loss of vision.
A tonometer is a tool often used to diagnose whether a dog has glaucoma. It is essential for your veterinarian to determine whether the glaucoma is primary or secondary as the treatment may be different depending on the type.
If you suspect your dog of having glaucoma, it is important to have them examined as soon as possible because if a dog has glaucoma in one eye, there is also a high chance for them to get it in the other eye.
Depending on the type of glaucoma, your vet may prescribe medications and if it doesn’t work, they may recommend solutions such as laser therapy, cyclocryotherapy and implants. In more serious cases where an eye affected by glaucoma is painful and no longer visual, injections to shrivel up the eye or surgery to remove the eye may be necessary to relieve pain.
There are other eye conditions not mentioned above that may also cause cloudy eyes in dogs. These include:
- Dry Eye;
- Anterior Uveitis;
- Corneal Dystrophy.
Given the eye conditions above, it would help to be able to monitor our dogs even if we are away, or if we simply want to keep tabs on them when we’re in a different room inside the house. One way to do so is by using an interactive pet camera such as the Petcube cam, which offers a smart and HD camera that allows you to see, talk, and monitor how your dog is doing even if you’re away.
It delivers a sharpness of 1080p full HD, features smooth 2-way audio, and crystal clear night vision. With regards to our dogs having eye problems, a pet camera helps us observe how they may be affected by their eye condition and more so, helps us monitor them in case of emergency situations.
Nuclear Sclerosis vs. Cataracts
Nuclear sclerosis is often confused with cataracts. After all, both have symptoms of cloudy eyes in dogs. However, there are notable differences between the two. First, nuclear sclerosis in dogs is characterized by a bluish-colored discoloration whereas cataracts appear opaque and whitish.
Also, when a veterinarian looks at our dog’s eyes with an ophthalmoscope, what they would see would depend on the condition since they look different from each. Ultimately, nuclear sclerosis (a.k.a. lenticular sclerosis) does not cause significant loss in eyesight, unlike cataracts. However, both conditions usually affect both eyes.
Having an emergency fund for our pets like the Pet Emergency Fund being offered by Petcube would be beneficial to both our pets and us pet parents when it comes to eye emergencies and other conditions that our dog may have that need immediate and critical action.
This service not only provides us with a plan that has good coverage in case of such emergencies, but it also gives us access to an online vet service so we get the support that we need. Ultimately, it’s the best alternative to pet insurance for our peace of mind.
What is dog lenticular sclerosis?
Also known as nuclear sclerosis in dogs, lenticular sclerosis is the medical term for the bluish haze that may form in our middle-aged to senior dog’s lenses. This change is classified as normal and is associated with an aging dog.
Are eye drops for cataracts in dogs effective?
Depending on the stage of a dog’s cataract, there are ways to help our dog with their condition. For example, since advanced cataracts may cause inflammation in our dog’s eye, our vet may recommend anti-inflammation eye drops.
How are cloudy eyes in dogs treated?
Treatment would depend on what is causing it, our dog’s age, what stage it is in, and if our dog is feeling discomfort. With this, it is important to talk to your veterinarian about it.
In addition, we should be on the lookout for possible accompanying symptoms such as squinting, an increased discharge, redness or inflammation, a change in our dog’s eyes such as the color, shape, size, and if their vision becomes affected. If so, it is necessary for us to bring our dog to the vet immediately.