Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

Cataract Surgery for Dogs

Cataracts are a relatively common eye condition in people in dogs that can result in blurred vision and eventual blindness, but surgery can help to restore sight in many cases. Today our Tigard vets share a little about cataract surgery for dogs, and what you can expect if your dog has cataract surgery.

What are cataracts in dogs?

Each of your dog's eyes has a lens similar to that of a camera. This lens focuses your dog's vision to provide clear vision. A cataract is an opacification or cloudiness that can occur on all or part of the lens, interfering with the focus of a clear image on the retina and limiting your dog's ability to see clearly.

How can cataracts in dogs be treated?

It is frequently possible to surgically remove canine cataracts and replace them with artificial lenses. However, not all canines with cataracts are good candidates for this procedure. Cataract surgery might not be an option for your dog if he already has a retinal detachment, retinal degeneration, glaucoma, or severe eye inflammation.

When it comes to saving your dog's vision, early diagnosis of conditions such as cataracts is important. Regular twice-yearly wellness exams give your vet the opportunity to check your dog's eyes for signs of developing cataracts and recommend treatment before they become more serious.

In dogs diagnosed with cataracts that are good candidates for surgery, the sooner the surgery can be performed, the better their long-term outcome is likely to be.

If your pup isn't suitable for surgery rest assured that, although your pooch will remain blind they can still enjoy a very good quality of life. With a little practice, your dog will soon adapt and navigate their home environment well by using their other senses to guide them. 

What is the cataract surgery process for dogs?

You will typically drop your dog off either the morning of surgery or the night before, though each veterinary hospital is bound to operate a little differently. While diabetic dogs need to take some extra care, your veterinarian will always give you specific instructions on how to feed and care for your dog in the days leading up to the surgery. Follow your veterinarian's instructions exactly.

Pre-Surgery Testing

  • An ultrasound will be done while your dog is under anesthesia in order to look for problems like a detached retina or a ruptured (bursting) lens before the surgery even starts.It will also be confirmed that your dog's retina is functioning properly by performing an electroretinogram (ERG). Sadly, if these tests reveal any unanticipated problems, your dog might not be a candidate for cataract surgery.

Surgical Procedure

  • A general anesthetic will be used for cataract surgery. A muscle relaxant will also be given to your dog to help his eye sit in the correct position for the operation. Cataracts in dogs are removed using a procedure known as phacoemulsification. This procedure, which is similar to cataract surgery on humans, uses an ultrasonic device to break up and remove the cloudy lens from the dog's eye. After the cataract-affected lens is removed, an artificial lens implant (intraocular lens, or IOL) can be implanted in the eye to allow images to be focused clearly onto the retina.


  • Typically the vet performing your dog's ocular surgery will recommend that your dog stay overnight for monitoring, following cataract surgery. Intensive at-home aftercare will be required following surgery including the use of several types of eye drops, multiple times each day.
How much is cataract surgery for dogs?

It is always best to speak with your veterinarian directly regarding price. They should be able to give you a more accurate estimate.

What is the success rate of cataract surgery in dogs?

Many dogs will have some vision restored the next day, but it will usually take a few weeks for vision to settle as the eye adjusts to the effects of surgery and the presence of the artificial lens. Cataract surgery in dogs is considered a very successful treatment with a high rate of positive outcomes as long as the rest of the eye is in good working order.

Approximately 95% of dogs regain vision after surgery. Your veterinarian will be able to provide you with a long-term prognosis for your dog, but in general, maintaining vision after surgery is about 90% at one year and 80% at two years. Good post-operative care and regular visits to the veterinarian for eye examinations and monitoring following surgery and throughout your dog's life are critical to long-term success.

Are there risks with cataract surgery for dogs?

Every surgical procedure involving either humans or animals carries some level of risk. Although complications from canine cataract surgery are rare, some complications that veterinarians have observed include corneal ulcers and pressure elevations within the eye.It is crucial to bring your dog in for a follow-up examination with the vet in order to help stop complications from arising after the operation.

What is the recovery from cataract surgery like for dogs?

In dogs, the first two weeks are spent healing after cataract surgery. Your dog will need to be restrained to leash walks only during that time and required to wear an E-collar (cone) at all times. During this time, your dog will also require the administration of several medications, including eye drops and oral medications. For your dog's vision to improve, it's crucial to carefully adhere to your veterinarian's recommendations.

Depending on the results of the 2-week follow-up appointment, your dog's medications may be reduced, however, some dogs will need to remain on medication permanently.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your dog losing their vision to cataracts? Contact our Tigard vets to book an examination for your pooch. 

New Patients Welcome

Cascade Veterinary Referral Center is accepting new patients! Get in touch with us today for information on how to book a specialty appointment for your pet. 

Contact Us

Contact (503) 684-1800