|CoCos cataract surgery|
my family and finds generous benefactors
I adopted CoCo, a sweet Newfoundland mix, when she was 3 and a half years old, from a rescue group. She had been abused and neglected and I also discovered she was totally blind with cataracts in both eyes and diabetic. The vet that initially diagnosed her told me that cataract surgery is contraindicated with diabetic dogs but I found out that is SO wrong. Diabetic dogs and cats are the main beneficiaries of cataract surgery!
I didn't know how I could pay for the surgery on a fixed income and with several other pets that needed medical care. I was most fortunate to have an angel of a sponsor from the IMOM organization (slogan "helping people helping pets"- a wonderful place) to pay for CoCo's initial examination and testing at the eye vet's (Dr. Ramsey) office. The cost for this part was $280 but included the exam, pressure check, test to see the retinas in both eyes and an ultrasound of the eye.
CoCo is loved by a sweet older man, Mr. Macauley, age 78, who felt for her when she was up for adoption at PetsMart for so long, but he couldn't take her. He wanted to help her and came to her fundraiser at PetsMart. He surprised me and made me jump for joy by telling me that he would pay whatever was lacking for the surgery to be done so "she could see by Christmas." This was last November, 2002. The surgery, including the pre-surgical testing and consultation with exam, cost $1975. Any extra eye drops needed would be an extra cost but she only needed two vials at about $20 each. I will put the breakdown of the surgical costs at the bottom of this story, if anyone is interested in the specifics. I copied them from my receipt and some of the words were not easy to read, so please excuse any misspelling.
Dr. Ramsey discovered that CoCo had a large cataract in the right eye that could be removed and an implant put in. But the left eye was not easily repairable. The left eye had a detached retina plus it had a tear in it. He told me I could take her to Chicago, (where the only specialist that does these surgeries in the US at that time practices), but that it would cost at least $2800 and the chances of her seeing again in the eye, even with surgery, are only 50/50. He told me that she could do very well with sight in only one eye so I went with that.
I should mention at this point that Dr. Ramsey said that the cost of doing both eyes is not that much more expensive than just doing one eye (when we were not sure whether one or both eyes could be repaired).
CoCo's surgery and recovery
The day of the surgery, after having the flurbiprofen eye drops instilled in the right eye for three days prior, she was given only a half dose of insulin and I took her into Lansing very early in the morning for her 8:00 AM appointment. Mr. Macauley met me there. He wanted to stay with her for the whole surgery! I had to go home and take care of my other pets but he stayed right there for CoCo.
The surgery was uneventful and CoCo did just fine. I was very nervous as a vet had said that she was too fat to safely have surgery. I had asked Dr. Ramsey ahead of time and he scoffed at that, saying most of the diabetic cataract surgery dogs he did were overweight, a common problem with diabetics, he said. Incidentally, CoCo has slimmed down since then! The lens implant was put in. He had shown me what it looked like ahead of time. It looked like a large contact lens. The way that it was put in, it is held in place forever by the anatomy of the inner eye. It cannot be dislodged or lost, he said.
CoCo was groggy but went home at 6:00 that same evening with a plastic cone on her head. Dr. Ramsey said she should experience no pain to speak of. She needed no stitches and no shaving. She was sent home with 3 different eye drops, one of them had to be instilled 4 times a day. CoCo had a hard time with her cone for the first 24 hours. She tried to shake it off and pawed at it a lot but soon learned to accept it and navigate with it rather well. She only needed to wear the cone for one week.
The morning after surgery, CoCo was on her way outside to go potty and stopped to sniff her "favorite cat" and she sniffed...and looked....and looked again...and then, her tail went crazy with joy! It was so wonderful to see! I knew she could see then.
CoCo did very well and had no complications. She had a one week follow up, a one month follow up and will have her year follow up next week. She was an extremely nervous dog due to her abuse and insecurity with life and her blindness so I wondered how she would do, but she did just fine. Dr. Ramsey made it very easy for both of us. His skill is widely known, they tell me. He is a kind and very dedicated man so if anyone needs an eye vet in the Lansing, Michigan area, I would highly recommend him.
CoCo thrives with vision in one eye
CoCo does wonderfully with only one sighted eye. Her only problem is when she is running outside she will occasionally run into poles and such if they are on her left side. She hasn't hurt herself, though, and I think has memorized where all the obstacles are outside. Inside she has no problems at all.
It's now November 2003 and CoCo is a happy, fun-loving much loved member of the family and in good health with her diabetes well in control. She would have done fine with her blindness, as she had already demonstrated her skill at adapting, but I am very glad that she had the surgery done so she can add sight as a major pleasure and tool for her happy, secure life now.
Contributed by Anne and CoCo in Michigan
Here is the cost breakdown
Neuromuscular paralysis 45.00
Cataract surgery (one eye) 800.00
Artificial lens implant 145.00
Surgical pack 40.00
Surgical drape 25.00
Operating room fee 35.00
Viscoplastic material 95.00
Return to the cataract page and read other experiences from owners whose pet had cataract surgery.
Contributed November 2003