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Discussion Starter #1
I was told by the shelter when I got him that Rocky was blind in his right eye, but somebody said recently that it just looked like a cataract. Just wondering if anybody has any experience with cataracts in dogs and have any idea how much it might cost to get one removed?
 

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We rescued our Lab from a 'breeder'. At the time the vet explained to the 'breeder' that she had cataracts. After a visit with our vet and then a visit with an ophthalmologist it was determined to be a detached retina w/glaucoma. No treatment for it. Long story short, instead of a scheduled appointment sometime in the future, it instead became an emergency eye removal.

http://www.germanshepherds.com/forum/health-issues/179574-shadow-surgery-non-gsd.html

It may be difficult to locate one but find an ophthalmologist and have Rocky examined. Not inexpensive but well worth knowing for sure what is going on with the eye.
 

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Yes! One of ours came to us with double cataracts. He was the first blind dog we fostered, and somehow he became my DH's heartdog.

It's imperative to have cataracts evaluated and managed by a vet ophthalmologist as soon as you can.

If the cataract developed recently enough, the specialist can possibly offer you lens replacement surgery (kind of like they often do in older humans) -- it restores vision! There's a test they have to do first to see if what's underneath the cataract still works. That test should be part of the initial long ophthalmology consultation.

Lens replacement is VERY expensive (my recollection was that six years ago, we were quoted about $2k per eye, and we're in a fairly low-cost region for vet care...it's probably more in bigger cities). There's a fairly short window in which it can be done though.

My guy had the cataracts for years before we found him in a shelter, after he was picked up stray. His eye vet determined it was much too late for surgery for him. So we just managed them for years.

Management consists of RX eye drops to delay the onset of glaucoma, which nearly always follows cataracts eventually. The eye vet prescribes the drops and tests the eye pressure annually. They have a tool to test it that's a little different from the "air puff" you might have experienced yourself at an eye exam, but it's doing the same kind of thing.

We did this annually for about six years....then she noticed the pressure starting to creep up, and we had to monitor it with her much more frequently. We did some medicine changes too.

The thing with glaucoma is it's incredibly painful in dogs -- uncontrollable pain. The eye pressure builds and the eye ball bulges out, causing searing pain. So as soon as the pressure becomes uncontrolled, the eye needs to be removed -- or sooner. We didn't wait for it to get high; we removed the eye as soon as we started seeing fluctuating readings, and the medicine losing effectiveness. With enucleation (eyeball removal), the pain goes away.

Prepare yourself that cataracts lead to glaucoma eventually, and glaucoma leads to enucleation eventually. It's a natural progression of a disease state, but it can take years to progress with good management to keep pressure down. A lot of people fear enucleation because it changes the look of the face for the human, but the blind dog doesn't care one way or the other. Personally, I prefer to pay the eye doctor for an enucleation instead of a generalist vet (even though it's more expensive) because they seem to get a much better looking face using some specialized techniques. Sometimes the results I've seen from generalist vets can be a little cringe-inducing, with sunken eye cavities with the third lid pulled over, but otherwise open...my old guy looks quite adorable with his eyelids permanently shut, no sunken cavities, and the shape of his face is preserved.
 

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I thought it might be worth sharing a photo of what the enucleation looks like from our eye specialist. This guy's eyes stay closed (the muscles to open them are no longer functional), so you never see the red third eyelid. Note that the eye shape is still round (she packed a little round medical implant inside the cavity that created the shape so they wouldn't appear sunken).

The only downside is when his head is down on the dog bed, I can't tell if he's asleep or awake without paying attention to his breathing.


Photo - I can't figure out how to rotate this, sorry!:
Eyes.JPG
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the replies!

I have already made a few calls, one to Rocky's vet and the other to the animal hospital who consulted with me on Max's LP and who performed the ACL repair and removed the (benign) mass off Newlie's leg. I really like them over there. It wouldn't be the same surgeon, of course, an ophthalmologist would be needed for this kind of surgery.

So, first, I have to take Rocky in to the regular vet to get a referral, and then take him to the hospital to see if this is indeed a cataract. I am a little worried financially, they said it would be between $2,200 and $2,500 for one eye. Somehow, I had it in my mind that it might run a couple of hundred dollars, I am not sure what dream world I was living in, lol. I spent so much money taking care of Newlie, you see, that paying for this is going to be a stretch. Oh, well. first thing first, no sense in borrowing trouble. If it comes down to it, I'll figure out the money part then.
 

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Has Rocky already been diagnosed with cataracts? If not, couldn't you purchase insurance before your vet visit so that it's not an "existing condition"??
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Has Rocky already been diagnosed with cataracts? If not, couldn't you purchase insurance before your vet visit so that it's not an "existing condition"??
No, he hasn't. When I adopted Rocky, they just told me there was an injury that left him blind in one eye, but nobody had any details about what happened and I just accepted it. It may be that this is just a condition that no one can do anything about.

Thanks for the idea, though. I wouldn't want to do anything unethical, but I guess if would not be since the only person who said it might be a cataract was a friend of mine.
 

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If he's got the blindness documented in his record from the regular vet or the shelter record, my guess is the insurance will put 2 and 2 together and deduce that the blindness was due to a cataract. You might get lucky...but I wouldn't count on it. The pre-existing condition clauses I've seen are written based on the symptom's first appearance, not the diagnosis.



If it's not operable (which in all honest is the most likely outcome, since it sounds like he's been blind since before he got to the shelter), the maintenance isn't much of a cost. The drops are human generics that you can price through GoodRX.com and buy at any pharmacy.



The ophthalmology consultation and evaluation will probably run $150-200. Either way, it will be good to know what your options are!
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Thanks, Magwart, I'm glad you told me that. The papers that I got from the shelter did note that Rocky was blind in his right eye, so there is not much sense in pursuing insurance then. I do think I would like to know for sure what my options are, though, so I do intend to ask for a consultation.

It was a great suggestion, Tim, I really appreciate it.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I took Rocky to see an ophthalmologist today. He examined Rocky and did a number of tests and said that he does not have a cataract, but a corneal scar. He thinks whatever it was happened sometime ago and that Rocky probably grew up never knowing any different. He did confirm that Rocky had some vision in that eye by covering his good eye and dropping a cotton ball. Even I could tell that he saw it fall.

Rocky's other eye is normal other than it is half brown and half blue. He said a name for it, but I can't remember what was was off-hand. No further need to go back unless something changes.

Rocky acted like a champ during the exam. He didn't really like the vet messing with his eye, and I had to help hold him still at times, but the only thing he did was try to pull away. The vet said "It's a good thing he is a friendly dog, it would be bad if he wasn't since he is a behemoth." I think that is another word for "Tank," lol
 

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That's good news!
 
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