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 Rock Hill vets share a little about what to expect when your dog goes in to have cataract surgery.

What are cataracts in dogs?

There is a lens in each of your dog's eyes, similar to the lens in a camera. This lens helps to focus your pet's vision so that they can see clearly. A cataract is a cloudiness or opacification of the lens that can affect all or part of the lens, preventing a clear image from being focused on 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 many cases. Unfortunately, not all dogs with cataracts are good candidates for this procedure. Cataract surgery may not be an option for your dog if he or she has a pre-existing retinal detachment, retinal degeneration, glaucoma, or severe inflammation of the eyes.

Early detection of conditions such as cataracts is critical for saving your dog's vision. Your veterinarian can check your dog's eyes for signs of developing cataracts and recommend treatment before they become more serious during regular twice-yearly wellness exams.

If your pup has been diagnosed with cataracts and is a good candidate for surgery, the sooner the surgery can be performed, the better the long-term outcome for your pet is likely to 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 must be dropped off at the veterinary hospital, you will be informed. It will most likely be the morning of or the night before surgery. While diabetic dogs require special attention, your veterinarian will provide you with detailed instructions on feeding and care leading up to surgery day. Make sure to carefully follow your veterinarian's instructions.

Pre-Surgery Testing

Your dog will be sedated before surgery, and an ultrasound will be performed to check for issues such as retinal detachment or lens rupture (bursting). To ensure that your dog's retina is functioning properly, an electroretinogram (ERG) will be performed. If these tests reveal any unexpected problems, your dog may not be a candidate 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.

The procedure of phacoemulsification is used to remove cataracts in dogs. This procedure, which is similar to cataract surgery on 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 implanted in the eye to allow images to be focused clearly onto the retina.


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

What is the dog cataract surgery success rate?

Many dogs will have some vision restored the next day, but it will usually take a few weeks for vision to settle as the eye adjusts to the surgery and the artificial lens. Cataract surgery in dogs is a very successful treatment with a high rate of positive outcomes if the rest of the eye is in good working order.

Approximately 95% of dogs regain their vision as soon as they recover from surgery. Your veterinarian can give you a long-term prognosis for your dog, but in general, 90 percent of dogs maintain 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 examinations and monitoring are essential for successful long-term outcomes.

Are there risks with cataract surgery for dogs?

All surgical procedures involving pets or people carry some risk. Although complications from cataract surgery in dogs are uncommon, veterinary ophthalmologists have seen corneal ulcers and pressure elevations within the eye after the procedure. Taking your dog to the veterinary surgeon for a follow-up exam is critical for preventing complications after the surgery.

How long is dog cataract surgery recovery?

In dogs, the initial healing period after cataract surgery is about two weeks. During that time, your dog will be required to wear an E-collar (cone) at all times and be limited to leash walks only. During this time, you'll need to give your dog a variety of medications, including eye drops and oral medications. It's critical to carefully follow your vet's instructions if you want your dog's vision to improve.

Depending on the results of the 2-week follow-up appointment, your dog's medications may be reduced, however, some dogs will need to remain on medication permanently.

How much is cataract surgery for dogs?

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

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 Catawba Animal Clinic for an appointment today.