A cataract is defined as an abnormal breakdown in the normal lamellar arrangement of the lens fibers, resulting in a loss of transparency of the crystalline lens. Cataracts can be classified in various ways, such as age of onset (ie. juvenile, congenital), location (Le. cortical nuclear), cause (ie. inherited, metabolic), and degree of maturation (ie. immature, mature).
Initially, when a client is considering cataract surgery for their pet, a comprehensive ophthalmic examination is necessary to rule out any other hereditary or clinical ophthalmic disease. Your general veterinarian can facilitate the referral process.
Once the initial ophthalmic examination is done, a complete physical examination, hemogram, and urinalysis is mandatory to determine the general physical health of the patient. Since cataract surgery is considered to be elective surgery, and many of our patients are geriatric, the pet must be in the best physical health possible, otherwise, surgery will not be recommended. Also, if the retina cannot be visualized, a preoperative electroretinogram (ERG) is necessary to determine retinal function.
There are various other components of cataract surgery, including preoperative medications, anesthesia, fluid therapy, postoperative medications, and reevaluations. The protocol for each patient will be discussed in detail with the client prior to surgery.
The surgical procedure of choice is phacoemulsification, which utilizes ultrasound to disrupt the lens material into small particles, facilitating removal from the eye. Utilization of a small corneal incision, along with phacoemulsification results in minimal tissue trauma. Subsequently, the patient is more comfortable and the recovery time postsurgically is minimized.
Hopefully, this article will highlight some of the more commonly asked questions about cataract surgery and related services from my office. There is a high success rate with this procedure (85-90%), so we are able to help many patients back to a “world of vision.” If there are any other questions, please do not hesitate to call (404) 299-0678.