What is Eyes Turning White?
If your dog has developed white eyes, it may have developed from a variety of different medical conditions. Whichever condition it may be, it is important to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian in order to have your dog’s eyes checked and treated as necessary. White eyes in dogs may create discomfort, pain and stress or anxiety if they are not familiar with what is occurring with their vision. Lenticular sclerosis and cataracts are both considered common eye problems seen in dogs over the age of 9. Glaucoma can have many different causes including a genetic component which may see early development in some breeds.
- Lenticular sclerosis
Why Eyes Turning White Occurs in Dogs
Lenticular sclerosis occurs when there is a blue/white transparent “haze” that develops within the lens of the eye in senior dogs. It is a naturally occurring condition associated with effects of aging, which can lead to white and cloudy eyes. Dogs that experience lenticular sclerosis do not appear to have their vision significantly affected. Lenticular sclerosis typically develops in both eyes in senior dogs. It appears as a symmetrically rounded gray area in the center of the lens.
The following symptoms may be observed as your dog develops lenticular sclerosis:
- Cloudy color in the lens
- Lack of vision
- Lack of distance and depth perception
- Typically present in both eyes
- Cloudiness differs on lighting
When white eyes occur in dogs due to the presence of lenticular sclerosis or cataracts, there are several causes as to why it develops. In lenticular sclerosis in dogs, the lens becomes harder as time passes. As the central lens is compressed by new fibers which are then deposited on the outer rings of the lens, the compression results in lens hardening.
Another cause of white eyes in dogs is cataracts. Cataracts are characterized as white and opaque. Cataracts cloud the eye lens and can cause either partial or complete loss of vision. Cataracts develop as result of an increased amount of protein accumulated in the eye. The retina is prevented from receiving light and creating an image for your dog. In turn, this may cause the loss of vision. Untreated cataracts can lead to further eye inflammation, glaucoma, and blindness. While cataracts are slightly more likely to be observed in senior dogs, they can occur at any age and can be observed in either one or both eyes. Some signs to look out for include:
- White/cloudy eyes
- Discoloration of the eye
- Changes in lighting
In cataracts, the most common cause of this condition is due to genes. There are certain dog breeds that are prone to developing cataracts such as Miniature and Standard Poodles, Cocker Spaniels, Miniature Schnauzers, Golden Retrievers, Boston Terriers, and Bichon Frises. Other causes of cataracts include diabetes and eye trauma.
Glaucoma can lead to blindness and is a painful disease. Pressure inside the eye leads to the pain and is caused by too much fluid in the eye. The cornea can become cloudy leading to a loss of vision. Other symptoms may be:
- Avoidance of light
- Redness of the eye
What to do if your Dog is Eyes Turning White
In order to determine why your dog has developed white eyes, it is essential to have him checked out by your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will conduct a series of tests to determine the cause of your pet’s condition. The veterinarian will ask you questions regarding when the symptoms were first observed, any changes in his health, and if there has been any recent trauma.
Your dog will be provided with an ophthalmologic examination to determine whether there has been any vision loss and to detect the presence of cataracts. Your veterinarian may dilate your dog’s pupils to evaluate the structure of his eye. This exam will reveal the possibility of cataracts, glaucoma or lenticular sclerosis. A complete blood work panel and urinalysis are expected to be offered to your dog to eliminate the possibility of diabetes. For lenticular sclerosis, the same tests will be conducted in order to rule out other medical conditions that may have gone unnoticed. If your dog’s white eyes are a result of lenticular sclerosis, there is no treatment necessary. Treatment for glaucoma and cataracts may involve both medication and surgery.
Prevention of Eyes Turning White
Prevention of white eyes in dogs depends on the medical condition and whether prevention is foreseeable. With lenticular sclerosis, prevention is not a realistic goal due to the progressive nature of the condition. Lenticular sclerosis occurs due to old age in dogs and happens naturally. It is not avoidable and may be common in certain breeds of dogs.
If your dog is diagnosed with lenticular sclerosis, there is no treatment in order to cure the condition. Your veterinarian can help guide you in the right direction for how to best support your dog. Due to his special needs, he may need assistance with the stairs, climbing, and running. Lenticular sclerosis can develop into cataracts at a later stage in your dog’s life. If this occurs, continue to monitor any changes in your dog’s behavior as well as changes to his activity level.
It is recommended to help with the upkeep of your dog’s health by checking in regularly with your veterinarian. Regular check-ups will allow your veterinarian to discover possible anomalies with your dog and treat them immediately. For cataracts, it is possible to avoid further damage to the eye by surgically removing the cataracts from your dog. Removing cataracts can help restore failing vision. Reducing the pressure in the eye is necessary when treating glaucoma. The type of surgery chosen will be decided after the severity of the condition is determined.
Cost of Eyes Turning White
Treating white eyes in dogs can become expensive depending on the condition your dog is diagnosed with. Treatment for cataracts in dogs can become more expensive to treat due to the nature of the condition. Treatment for cataracts can range from $300 to $3000. The average cost of treating cataracts is $2500. The expense for dealing with glaucoma can reach $3500, with the average cost typically being $900.
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Eyes Turning White Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
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