Is “lenticular sclerosis” a serious dog and cat eye problem?
By: Ernest E. Ward, Jr., DVM
What is dog and cat lenticular sclerosis?
- It’s the medical term for a dog or cat “cloudy eye” haze that develops in the lens of the eye in middle-aged to senior dogs.
- It’s a normal, slowly progressive change in aging pets, and it doesn’t appear to affect vision.
- Usually it occurs in both eyes at the same time, fairly evenly.
- This condition is not the same as dog or cat cataracts. Cataracts cause vision problems.
- Lenticular sclerosis and cataracts are the 2 most common dog and cat eye problems for pets over the age of 9. For instance, they occur in roughly 50% in dogs over 9 years old and 100% in dogs over 13.
What causes lenticular sclerosis in dogs and cats?
- It appears that the pet’s eye lens gradually becomes harder with age, although the exact mechanism is not known.
- Lens fibers are produced throughout life, but the lens doesn’t grow larger over time. Veterinarian experts believe that as the central lens is compressed by new fibers added to the outer “rings” of the lens, it becomes harder and less opaque.
- Thus, a blue-ish “cloudy haze” forms over the dog’s or cat’s eye.
How can I tell if my pet has lenticular sclerosis?
- You may see an evenly gray, rounded opacity or cloud in the center of your pet’s lens; especially when your pet’s pupils are dilated.
- The cloud is more dramatic when you look at your dog’s or cat’s eyes from the side, instead of the front.
- When your vet examines your pet’s eyes with an opthalmoscope, he or she will still see the retina and fundus (back of the eye).
What’s the likelihood of dog or cat cataracts because of this?
- While the two conditions seem related, they’re actually not.
- So while many pets with lenticular sclerosis develop cataracts, many others do not.
- However, both conditions become more common as pets age and approach their senior years. If your dog or cat lives a long healthy life, there’s a good chance of developing lenticular sclerosis, cataracts, or both.
How will my vet treat this condition?
- Treatment is not needed since vision isn’t impaired.
- Your vet will want to monitor your pet’s eyes to watch for any signs of cataract development, and then correct that problem with surgery if recommended.
The good news is – your veterinarian will determine if your dog’s or cat’s cloudy eye is due to lenticular sclerosis or cataracts.
Talk to your vet if you notice any haze on your pet’s eye lens.