Have you noticed a difference in your dog's eyes recently that concerns you?
Q: My dog’s eyes are starting to get cloudy; he is nine years old. What are the symptoms of a dog going blind?
A: There are three parts of the eye that can be affected by cloudiness: the cornea (the clear outermost layer at the front of the eye), the fluid in the anterior chamber of the eye (immediately behind the cornea) and opacity of the lens.
Unfortunately, a cloudy appearance can either represent a normal ageing process — as the dog’s lens matures — or alternatively indicate some, more serious, eye problem or a potentially serious underlying health concern. For this reason it would be best to have a veterinary surgeon examine your dog’s eyes.
The most common reasons for the cornea to be clouded are infection, inflammation or scarring. However, it can also be a sign of glaucoma in which, if untreated, pressure inside the eye increases to cause permanent damage.
The anterior chamber of the eye can become cloudy if there is an accumulation of some material such as lipids, fats or white blood cells. These in turn can be an indication of some more serious underlying condition elsewhere in the body.
Finally, if the lens itself becomes cloudy, this could either be due to cataract or, more commonly, a part of the normal ageing process. Despite the fact the lens remains the same size as an animal gets older, cells inside the lens continue to divide and multiply throughout life. This means more cells have to be accommodated in the same lens volume and the lens, as a consequence, becomes less transparent as an animal matures into old age.
This process, termed nuclear sclerosis, causes no apparent visual defect, but it is a common cause for the eyes of older dogs to appear more cloudy.