What Animals Develop Cataracts?

Just like humans, animals can also develop cataracts. Virtually every species could potentially suffer, including mammals, birds, reptiles, and even fish.

Just like humans, animals can also develop cataracts. Virtually every species could potentially suffer, including mammals, birds, reptiles, and even fish. However, they’re most commonly seen in dogs, horses, and—less frequently—cats. 

Cataracts in Animals: similar to humans but with subtle differences

  • Let’s talk dog…
  • Equine cataracts
  • What other animals develop cataracts?

Let’s talk dog…

The natural aging process means that the lenses in dogs’ eyes get harder as they get older. This can be seen by us as a blue/grey sheen within the eye and is known as nuclear sclerosis. Cataracts can also form in a similar way that they do in humans—small clumps of protein build up on the lens, preventing light from traveling smoothly through the eye.

Dogs can get both conditions together or in isolation.

However, unlike humans who rely intently on close-up vision, dogs don’t have such great near sight to begin with. Therefore, in many cases, either or both conditions might not cause the same level of eyesight problems.

In addition to advancing age, many things raise the likelihood that a dog will develop cataracts, including:

Having diabetes.

Trauma to the eye.

Retinal disease.

Radiation therapy to treat cancer.


Cataract surgery is often performed on dogs. The same as a human operation, the diseased lens is removed and an artificial one is put in its place. The success rate for a cataract operation in dogs is around 90%. Some dogs need to remain on permanent medication following a cataract procedure.

Equine cataracts

Horses can also get cataracts. Again, they can be congenital, or they can form over time—usually as part of the aging process. Equine cataracts might never cause a problem, especially if they’re small or at the outside edge of the lens. Horses generally learn to cope very well with reduced eyesight or even the total loss of vision in one eye. 

Larger cataracts can be removed—in horses, the long-term success rate is around 60%. Whether or not this is a viable option will depend on many things, including what the horse is used for (such as competition, riding, breeding) and any issues it might be causing.

What other animals develop cataracts?

It might surprise you to know that pretty much every animal on the planet could potentially get cataracts. They’ve been seen in many species of snakes, lizards that have been kept too close to UV light sources, fish, cows, rodents, bears, kangaroos…

It makes sense that animals with a lens within the eye would suffer from the same stiffening and protein build-up that humans do—resulting in cataracts once they reach an advanced age. As with humans, animals that are diagnosed need a specialist ophthalmologist to monitor and treat the condition.

In the cases where surgery is considered appropriate, this will be performed under general anesthetic—unlike the local procedures that humans enjoy. But hey, try explaining to your dog that he or she needs to remain still for 30 minutes while someone shines a light in your eye… That’s certainly not going to happen.

Aftercare is also more challenging, with the same requirements of gentle exercise, exemplary cleanliness, medication administration, and not touching the eye as humans also must follow.

Let the WBEC Treat Your Cataracts and a Specialist Animal Vet Care For Your Animals

Seeing a beloved pet suffer from eyesight issues is heartbreaking. However, much as early diagnosis is vital for our four-legged, feathered, and scaly friends, it is for us too. If you’re researching what other animals get cataracts, then don’t forget to include yourself in the mix…

The key to great eyesight is to partner with a great ophthalmologist. Whether you’re worried about cataracts, have been told they’re developing, or you need an operation, there’s no better place than the West Boca Eye Center.

Discover more at https://westbocaeyecenter.com/services/cataract-surgery/


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