Why do your pet’s eyes look foggy?

Published 12:32 pm Tuesday, August 9, 2011

By DR. FRED SELF / Veterinarian

You may have wondered why your pet’s eyes seem to look foggy or gray.

Two conditions that can affect the lens of the eye will cause a graying effect.

The first is a commonly seen condition in humans as wellas pets called cataracts. The second is a less well-known condition called lenticular sclerosis.

It is important to differentiate between the two conditions because their outcomes are quite different. Cataracts develop in association with the lens portion of the eye. They usually form in the center of the line of sight. Over time, they progressively spread outward from the center. Cataracts can have several causes. There are cataracts that form in puppies related to genetic conditions passed through a particular breed. Some cataracts form due to conditions like diabetes.

Other forms of cataracts are related to blunt force trauma to the eye. Electrical shock can cause cataracts to form. Maybe the more commonly known cause is aging.

Regardless of the cause, cataracts result in a loss of vision starting in the center of the field of vision and working outward.

Lenticular sclerosis also develops in relationship to the lens. This condition, like cataracts, is a change in the structure of the lens material.

Lenticular sclerosis starts centrally in the lens and with time expands toward the sides. The cause for this condition is much simpler. As the eye ages, the lens material undergoes changes that result in cloudiness.

Lenticular sclerosis does not cause loss of vision. It may affect clarity and precision of vision but does not create blind spots.

It is important to determine which condition your pet has so that treatment, if needed, can be started. With lenticular sclerosis, no treatment is necessary, and the pet can live a normal life. Cataracts, however, require treatment for any other condition that may have caused them to form and require surgery to remove and replace the abnormal lens. It is important that the cause of the cataract be determined, if possible, so that it can be corrected. Replacing the lens alone will help improve vision but will not solve any other problems the underlying condition might cause.

If your pet has a gray appearance to his or her eye, take him or her to your veterinarian. A basic eye exam can tell you whether lenticular sclerosis or cataracts are to blame.

Dr. Fred Self is a veterinarian at Shelbiana Animal Clinic in Columbiana, along with Dr. Charles Thornburg. You can reach them at 669-7717.