A cataract is opacity of the lens of the eye. The lens,
normally perfectly clear, is located behind the colored iris, roughly
in the center of the sphere of the eye. When a small part of this
lens, or the entire lens, becomes opaque, this is a cataract. It can
cause severe vision loss.
Are cataracts always inherited?
No, there are other causes of cataracts other than the inherited
kind. These causes include trauma to the eye (usually a penetrating
wound), nutritional deficiency, diabetes, persistent pupillary membranes*,
or severe ocular inflammation. These causes of cataracts however,
are much more rare than the inherited cataracts. Inherited cataracts
may or may not be in both eyes.
When do Cavalier King Charles Spaniels get inherited cataracts?
Cataracts in this breed can appear at an early age (less than
6 months). They usually affect the entire lens, progress rapidly and
cause complete blindness.
Is cataract surgery available for dogs?
Yes, we use the same technique that is used in people:
phacoemulsification. A probe, emitting high frequency ultrasound, is
placed into the lens, which dissolves it and sucks it out of the eye.
Many people are under the impression that this is laser surgery. This
is not laser surgery. Lasers cannot be used to remove cataracts. They
can remove "aftercataracts" or membranes, which form after
How are cataracts inherited in the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel?
Inheritance is unknown at this point. It is advised to avoid breeding
any dog with cataracts, the parents of dogs with cataracts, or the
siblings of dogs with cataracts. Other relatives should be bred with