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Rosie's experience with cataracts
Rosie is a 7 year old terrier mix. Rosie was diagnosed with diabetes on December 15, 1997. Because it took us so long to get Rosie regulated, her cataracts progressed rapidly. We first noticed she had some cloudiness in her eyes in February. She did not act any different until we brought her home from her last vet blood glucose curve on March 3, 1998. She was then completely blind, we think. For a few days after this, all Rosie did was hide. I had to hand feed her.

We visited a veterinary ophthalmologist at the end of March. At this point, her eyes were very red and inflamed. The eye doctor diagnosed Rosie as having uveitis along with the mature cataracts. He prescribed 2 eye drops and baby aspirin for her.

Since we had so much trouble getting Rosie really regulated, we did not do any further testing for possible cataract removal until July. We wanted to wait until we had her well regulated, and had some time to make sure she would stay regulated. In July we had an ERG (electroretinography) test done on Rosie's eyes. This test was not done under general anesthesia. The ERG tests retinal function. If there is not adequate retinal function, then it is pointless to do cataract surgery, as it will not help the dog's vision. Fortunately, both ERGs were good for Rosie. These tests and all the associated medications and a complete blood panel were about $250.

We had cataract surgery done at the end of July. We took Rosie in at 8am, they administered pre-operative eye drops for a few hours, and then did the cataract surgery. Rosie had cataracts removed from both eyes. She had an intraocular lens implanted in one eye. She did not have a lens implanted in the other eye because the eye had too much scarring, and the doctor thought that having the lens would do Rosie no good at all. The most unexpected part of the surgery was that they shaved all around her eyes, something we didn't know about until Rosie was brought out to us after her surgery, and while she was recovering from anesthesia. I understand why they did it, but wasn't expecting it.

After surgery, we were given 3 different eye drops. We gave one drop 2 times per day, one drop 3 times per day, and one drop 1 time per day. We went back to the eye doctor the next day and found out that Rosie had elevated pressures in her eyes. Because of the possibility of glaucoma, this was a concern. We were given a pill and a different eye drop to administer. We went back to the eye doctor 2 days later and her pressures were fine.

We continued with the eye drop schedule for about a month. We also gave Rosie a pill antibiotic 3 times per day for about 10 days after surgery. Since this time, we have been gradually eliminating eye drops, and are only using one drop 2 times per day, and another drop 1 time per week. I think the eye drop schedule is critical in the success of the surgery.

For about a week after surgery, Rosie was really depressed. I think she just needed time to adjust both to seeing again, and to having only one lens in her eyes. We had a little trouble getting her regulated after surgery, but no where near the trouble at the beginning.

We went to the eye doctor one day after surgery, 2 days after that, a week later, a month after surgery, and will be returning 4 months after surgery.

Having Rosie seeing again has been worth all the eye drop schedules and money. It is great to see her catch a tennis ball nearly as good as she did before she was diagnosed with diabetes and developed her cataracts.

Seamus' cataract surgery
In April 1996 Seamus was diagnosed with diabetes. In May, 1997 the eye specialist felt that cataract surgery was needed. At that time, Seamus was only 4 years old.  He was scheduled for surgery in October.

The eye doctor was a specialist ("Animal Eye Care Specialists") who was well versed in diabetes. Seamus had a full blood panel & exam prior to the surgery. The day of surgery, Seamus had no food, water, or insulin.

Before actually doing the surgery, the vet tested Seamus' eyes to be sure the cataracts could be removed.  If the tests proved to be negative, the surgery would not be done. But the tests were ok, so Seamus had cataracts removed from both eyes, and had lenses implanted.

All went well, and I picked him up in the afternoon.   Seamus was wearing his Elizabethan collar and was very woozy. Luckily, I had made arrangements to be away from work for the full week.  The schedule for the next 2-3 weeks was pretty grueling.  Along with the usual diabetes stuff, Seamus had to have 4 different eye drops, four times a day! The poor guy!! Every time he saw his mom, she was coming at him with something in her hands!!  I was not expecting the amount of time needed for all of the eye drops. Thank goodness I took the few days off.

The worst was the collar...he hated that.

All of the medication was gradually reduced but this took quite some time.  He was going in for re-checks at least every week for almost 3 months, and after his year anniversary of the surgery, he was down to one set of eye drops, 2 times a day.

As of today, he still must have his eyes checked about every 3 months. The vet has been very happy with his recovery, and Seamus has no noticeable sight problems.  He runs and chases his buddy Sam as much as possible.   He no longer needs eye drops.

The surgery was very expensive.. $2200, but that included all the re-checks for over a year. I also have pet insurance, which did help quite a bit.

It has been very worthwhile!! -- Contributed by Marcia & Seamus

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Contributed August 2001
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