Surgical Approaches to Correction in a Miniature Schnauzer



My miniature schnauzer will be 5, and has congenital cataracts (knew she had something wrong the first few days of having her home but oh well).  She has a dachsund companion that helps her out but it’s sad to see her so disabled by her blindness when she runs into things.  I heard that there is ophthalmic surgery. What do you recommend?


Dr. Nichol:

Your compassion and devotion for that special little dog touches my heart. It’s also good to know that she has her own seeing-eye dog. But she can romp and play like any dog with normal eyesight if she has corrective surgery.


Inside every normal eye is a lens that focuses light on the retina at the back of the eye. Cataracts are diseased lenses that are opaque white; no light can pass through. So a dog like yours sees little, if anything. There are several possible causes including diabetes, low blood calcium, and internal eye diseases. But the most common reason is heredity-like your miniature schnauzer.


Have surgery done to remove those bad lenses ASAP. If you wait the disease will advance, raising the risk of severe inflammation inside her eyes. That could cause irreversible eye damage.


There are two different methods for eliminating cataracts in dogs. The older approach is simple removal of the lens using conventional surgical instruments. Most dogs do fine. The alternative is new and high tech- phacoemulsification, also called ultrasonic lens fragmentation. The latter method has a success rate of 90%. She can even have artificial lenses implanted inside her eyes during the procedure to prevent farsightedness.


Any veterinary eye specialist can help this girl. But for the ultrasonic procedure you may need to take her to one of the teaching institutions. It’ll cost a few bucks, but I say go for it. She’s still a youngster, and gee, that dachsund is getting tired of reading traffic signs for her.