Genetic Cataracts in Poodles

by Brandy Burgess, Demand Media
    Regular eye exams can catch the development of cataracts early on.

    Regular eye exams can catch the development of cataracts early on.

    Poodles are predisposed to cataracts, or opacity in the lenses of the eyes that causes blurred vision. Cataracts often have a milky appearance. Small cataracts may pose no vision problems, but blindness is inevitable if the cataracts become thicker and denser.

    Symptoms

    Symptoms of cataracts include a change in eye color, usually to gray, blue or white. There may also be inflammation in or around the eye. In progressed cases, you may notice that your poodle is bumping into walls or furniture or has a reluctance to explore new places. If you notice any cloudiness in the eye at all, take your pet for a vet visit.

    Causes

    Many types of cataracts are inherited, presenting in dogs as young as 2 years old. Poodles are among over 30 breeds highly prone to congenital cataracts, according to Dr. Rhea V. Morgan of the San Diego Animal Care Clinic. If your poodle’s genetics are not to blame, other causes of cataracts -- including malnutrition, diabetes, eye injury and eye inflammation -- might be.

    Risk Factors

    Dogs of all sizes, ages and breeds are susceptible to developing cataracts, but among the 30 that are more likely to acquire the condition, cataracts particularly plague terriers, cocker spaniels, golden retrievers, miniature schnauzers and poodles. Genetic cataracts can be present in poodles at birth or may develop at any point in a dog’s lifetime. Dogs that suffer from nutritional disorders, metabolic disorders or retinal disease, or that have had exposure to radiation, are at higher risk. Female poodles are more susceptible to diabetes and thus have an increased risk of cataracts.

    Treatment

    If you suspect Fideaux has cataracts, get your poodle’s eyes examined. If the cataracts are small and not effecting your dog’s vision, a vet may decide no treatment is necessary. Surgery can restore vision loss due to cataracts. Work with your vet to determine and manage any underlying conditions that your poodle may have, such as diabetes, to reduce the progression of cataracts.

    Considerations

    Genetics may not be the cause of your poodle's cataracts. Dogs eyes can become naturally cloudy with age, a condition known as nuclear sclerosis. Nuclear schlerosis is the most common form of cataract. It occurs when the matrix of the lenses of the eyes no longer reflect light in the same way they once did. As these cataracts mature, they may develop crystalline cracks that resemble the appearence of crushed ice. In most cases, sclerosis does not cause vision loss and treatment generally isn’t needed.

    About the Author

    Based in northern New York, Brandy Burgess has been writing on pets, technical documentation and health resources since 2007. She also writes on personal development for YourFreelanceWritingCareer.com. Burgess' work also has appeared on various online publications, including eHow.com. Burgess holds a Bachelor of Arts in computer information systems from DeVry University and her certified nurses aid certification.

    Photo Credits

    • George Doyle & Ciaran Griffin/Stockbyte/Getty Images