Cataracts can result in blurred vision and eventual blindness for your pooch, but surgery may be able to help to restore your dog's vision. Here, our Ruckersville vets share a little about what to expect when your dog goes in to have cataract surgery.

What are cataracts in dogs?

Each of your dog's eyes contains a lens, similar to those found in cameras. This lens helps to focus your pet's vision, allowing them to see clearly. A cataract is a cloudiness or opacification of the lens that can affect all or part of it, preventing a clear image from reaching the retina and impairing your dog's vision.

What is the treatment for cataracts in dogs?

Cataracts in dogs can be surgically removed and replaced with an artificial lens in most cases. Unfortunately, not all dogs with cataracts are suitable for this procedure. Cataract surgery may not be an option for your dog if he or she has a history of retinal detachment, degeneration, glaucoma, or severe eye inflammation.

Early detection of conditions like cataracts is critical to saving your dog's vision. During regular twice-yearly wellness exams, your veterinarian can examine your dog's eyes for signs of developing cataracts and recommend treatment before the condition worsens.

If your dog has cataracts and is a good candidate for surgery, the sooner the surgery is performed, the better your pet's long-term outcome will be.

If your dog isn't suitable for surgery rest assured that, although your pup will remain blind they can still enjoy a great quality of life. Dogs are very adaptable creatures and with a little practice, your dog will adapt and be able to navigate their home environment well by using their other senses to guide them. 

What is the dog cataract surgery process?

Every veterinary hospital is different however, in most cases, cataract surgery for dogs involves the following:


When your dog needs to be dropped off at the veterinary hospital, you will be notified. It will most likely occur the morning or night before surgery. While diabetic dogs require special attention, your veterinarian will give you detailed feeding and care instructions prior to surgery. Be sure to carefully follow your veterinarian's instructions.

Pre-Surgery Testing

Before surgery, your dog will be sedated, and an ultrasound will be used to look for problems like retinal detachment or lens rupture (bursting). An electroretinogram (ERG) will be performed to ensure that your dog's retina is in working order. If these tests reveal any unexpected issues, your dog may not be eligible for cataract surgery.

Surgical Procedure

In dogs, cataract surgery is performed under a general anesthetic. A muscle relaxant will also be administered to help the eye sit in the correct position for the operation.

Phacoemulsification is a procedure for removing cataracts in dogs. This procedure, similar to cataract surgery in humans, uses an ultrasonic device to break up and remove the cloudy lens from the dog's eye. Following the removal of the cataract-causing lens, an artificial lens implant (intraocular lens, or IOL) can be inserted into the eye to allow images to be clearly focused on the retina.


After cataract surgery, your veterinarian will usually recommend that your dog stay overnight for monitoring. After your dog returns home, he or she will require extensive aftercare, including the application of multiple types of eye drops several times per day.

What is the dog cataract surgery success rate?

Many dogs will regain some vision the next day, but it usually takes a few weeks for vision to stabilize as the eye adjusts to the surgery and artificial lens. Cataract surgery in dogs is a very effective treatment with a high success rate if the rest of the eye is in good working order.

Approximately 95% of dogs regain their vision after surgery. Your veterinarian can provide a long-term prognosis for your dog, but in general, 90 percent of dogs retain vision after surgery after one year and 80 percent after two years. Following surgery and throughout your dog's life, good post-operative care and regular visits to the veterinarian for eye exams and monitoring are critical for long-term success.

Are there risks with cataract surgery for dogs?

Every surgical procedure involving animals or humans carries some risk. Although complications from cataract surgery in dogs are uncommon, veterinary ophthalmologists have reported corneal ulcers and pressure increases within the eye following the procedure. Taking your dog to the veterinary surgeon for a follow-up exam is essential for avoiding complications after surgery.

How long is dog cataract surgery recovery?

The initial healing period in dogs following cataract surgery is approximately two weeks. During that time, your dog must wear an E-collar (cone) at all times and is only permitted to go on leash walks. During this time, you'll need to give your dog a variety of medications, including eye drops and pills. If you want to improve your dog's vision, you must carefully follow your veterinarian's instructions.

Depending on the results of the two-week follow-up appointment, your dog's medications may be reduced; however, some dogs will require medication indefinitely.

How much is cataract surgery for dogs?

The cost of surgery for your pet will be determined by several factors, including your location, your dog's size, and overall health. Your veterinarian or veterinary ophthalmologist will give you a detailed estimate for your pet's cataract surgery.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your dog suffering from vision problems, or showing signs of cataracts? Contact Ruckersville Animal Hospital for an appointment today.