Finding out that your dog has cataracts can bring about some mixed feelings. It's a relief to know why your dog's eyes have begun to look cloudy and why they're struggling to see. But it's also scary to know that cataracts are not reversible; there's no way to really make them go away. The one thing vets can do for a dog with cataracts is perform surgery to remove them, replacing the damaged lens with a new, artificial one. Here's a closer look at what cataract surgery for dogs involves.

What dogs can have cataract surgery?

The success of cataract surgery really depends on your dog's ability to heal. So, if your dog has a condition like diabetes that impedes their healing ability, then they may not be a candidate for surgery. Vets also prefer not to operate on dogs who have other eye conditions, like retinopathy, because the eye may not heal properly after the surgery. 

Generally, your vet will schedule an exam and consultation to look over your dog's eyes and assess their health to determine if they're a good candidate for cataract surgery. You'll know by the end of this appointment if you have the green light to go ahead.

What happens during cataract surgery?

Often, you'll drop your dog off in the morning for this procedure, and you'll either pick them up that night or the next day. They'll be given general anesthesia, which means they'll be completely unconscious during the procedure. Once your dog is anesthetized, the vet will use an ultrasonic device to break up the damaged lens. Then, they'll remove the small pieces of lens tissue from the eye before implanting an artificial lens. 

What is the recovery process like?

Most dogs recover from cataract surgery very well with little discomfort. Your dog will need to wear a cone for at least a week to prevent them from rubbing their eye on anything. You'll have to give them pain relief eye drops and also antibiotic eye drops several times a day for a few weeks. Your vet will show you how to do this. Your dog's vision will slowly return in the days after surgery, and most vision should be regained within a month or two.

If your dog has cataracts, surgery is your only option to restore their healing. Talk to a professional who provides veterinary surgical services to see if your dog would be a good candidate.