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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 
  • Cataracts
  • Glaucoma

Why Eyes Turning White Occurs in Dogs

Lenticular Sclerosis

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. 

Cataracts

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 cloudiness seen in cataracts is a result from the eye failing to maintain hydration. 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 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, aging, and eye trauma. 

Glaucoma

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:

  • Squinting
  • Avoidance of light
  • Redness of the eye
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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.

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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.

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Cost of Eyes Turning White

Treating white eyes in dogs can become expensive depending on the condition your dog is diagnosed with. Treatment for lenticular sclerosis can range anywhere from $200 to $300. 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

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Milkshake

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Australian Shepherd

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4 Months

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Blue Eye Is Turning White

My Merle Aussie Shepherd mix puppy is 4 months old, and he started out with his left eye half brown/half crystal blue and the right eye solid crystal blue. Over the past two weeks, I've noticed that the right blue eye started losing the blue color. Now, very little blue remains, and that eye is almost completely white. He doesn't appear to have any symptoms of anything wrong. I am just wondering why that eye is turning white. The pupils have not changed.

March 10, 2018

Milkshake's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your email. The Merle gene can cause different eye colors and shades of blue, and puppies eye color can take a few months to fully develop. Milkshake may be having a normal process, or he may have a congenital problem that needs attention. It would be best to have a veterinarian examine him, as I cannot see the process or if it is a problem. A veterinarian will be able to examine him and determine if has a problem, and recommend any necessary treatment. I hope that all goes well for him.

March 10, 2018

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Brandy

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Pug

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3 Years

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

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My Pug'S Eyes Are Becoming White.

My Pug's eyes are becoming white. What to do? Dear Sir/ Madam, My dog is a pug female 3 years old and both of her eyes are turning white I do not know why. Presently I am putting Genticine eye drops. What should I do She is also having some cold for the past 3-4 months in which some yellow discharge is coming out of her nose. I have shown her to a senior vet here in India (My Place) he gave her some injections (Antibiotic & Anti Allergic) but noting really is helping her. Could you please suggest us some medicine as we love her very much and don't want to see her in this state. I would very much appreciate if I can get your answer on my email address please dchiragdin@gmail.com

Jan. 15, 2018

Brandy's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your email. Without examining Brandy, I cannot tell you why her eyes are turning white, if she has cataracts, or glaucoma, or if she has a corneal disease. It would be best to follow up with your senior veterinarian and ask advice on what might be happening, and how to treat it. I hope that Brandy does well.

Jan. 15, 2018

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Sugar

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Chihuahua

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3 Years

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Eyes Turning White

My dog has white dot in the center of her eyes what's going on with her? She is fine other wise sometimes her stool can be to dry or to wet like diarrhea but she is very picking when it comes to eating she hates dog food

Jan. 11, 2018

Sugar's Owner

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If you are noticing a white dot in the centre of Sugar’s eye, you should have it checked by your Veterinarian as it may be a symptom of a variety of conditions including corneal disorders (ulceration, dystrophy etc…), lens disorders (cataracts, sclerosis etc…) among other conditions. Your Veterinarian will examine Sugar and will be able to give you a diagnosis and recommend treatment. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Jan. 11, 2018

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Nala

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terrier

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13 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Whining
Licking The Air
White Cloudy Eyes

My dog is a tan terrier. She’s about 12 or 13 years old. Lately she’s been “licking the air” a lot and she whines and cries all the time. I’ve also noticed that her eyes are like a cloudy white. I’m not so sure if this is because of old age or is it something that i should be worried about.

Dec. 12, 2017

Nala's Owner

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Licking the air may be due to a variety of causes which may include acid reflux, swallowing difficulties among other issues; cloudy eyes may just be related to aging. You should try feeding Nala smaller meals more often and see if that stops the air licking; if she is still licking at the air you should visit your Veterinarian for an examination. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Dec. 12, 2017

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Beau

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Shetland Sheepdog

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10 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

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White In The Lateral/Medial Edges

My 10 year old Sheltie's corneas and retinas look pretty normal, however it seems as though I'm noticing more white in the corners of his eyes, particularly when he is viewing me from the side. Other than that, I'm not observing any changes in vision or depth perception that I can detect. He hasn't had any accidents or injuries that I am aware of.

Oct. 12, 2017

Beau's Owner

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0 Recommendations

It is normal for the eye to be white (sclera) around the iris just like in humans, is the issue with the medial and lateral canthus (two corners not involving the eyeball itself)? It is difficult to say what the specific cause is without examining Beau’s eyes but if you have noticed changes in the eye colour or any structures surrounding the eye it would be best to visit your Veterinarian to be on the safe side. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Oct. 13, 2017

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Tiny

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Aspin (Philippine Local Dog)

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5 Years

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Moderate severity

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White/Blue In The Center Of The Eye

My dog is a 5 year old Aspin ( Filipino Dog). I came home from work one day and he can't open his right eye and there's some rheum in his right eye. I tried to clean it but still he can't open his eyes, then one day as I was looking closely to his eys I noticed some white/blue color in the middle of his eyes, by the way his both eyes are brown so if you look at his both eyes you'll easily recognize the white/blue on the middle of if. I was wondering if it will make him blind. The white/blue thing is in his eyes for about 2 weeks now and I'm starting to worry.

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