Understanding Cataracts in Boston Terriers

Among their most identifiable physical characteristics are the Boston Terrier’s bulging eyes. Perhaps due to the compressed shape of their face and their small overall size, sometimes a Boston Terrier’s eyes seem too big for his head. In addition to an increased risk for eye injuries, Boston Terriers also have a higher risk for certain eye health conditions including cataracts. Keep reading to learn more about cataracts in Boston Terriers and how to treat them.

What Are Cataracts?

One of the most common eye problems in dogs, cataracts affect many different breeds including the Boston Terrier. A cataract is simply an opacity in the eye caused by the breakdown of lens fibers that results in a loss of transparency – it may also cause a reduction in vision. Cataracts form in the lens of the eye and the often have a white color to them. There are several different types of cataracts and the age of onset plays a significant role in identifying each type, particularly in determining whether it is an inherited condition in certain breeds.

Cataracts that are present at birth are called congenital cataracts and they typically occur in both eyes. The cataracts themselves may not always be inherited – they could be the result of an infection that the puppy developed prior to birth. Developmental cataracts, or early onset cataracts, develop early in the dog’s life and can be inherited to secondary to another problem such as diabetes, infection, or trauma to the eye. Late onset cataracts develop in dogs over six years of age and they are also known as senile cataracts. For Boston Terriers, the most common type of cataracts is congenital cataracts.

What Are the Treatment Options?

Unfortuantely, there aren’t any non-surgical treatments available for cataracts at this time. In most cases, surgery is required to physically remove the lens of the eye and, with it, the cataract. There are a number of different surgical techniques that can be used for this purpose – here is an overview:

  • Removal of the entire lens as well as the capsule surrounding it
  • Removal of the lens only without the surrounding capsule
  • Phacoemulsification of the lens
  • Aspiration and desiccation of the lens

Each of these options offers good results and a high success rate. No matter which option you choose, however, your Boston Terrier will have to undergo a thorough examination to determine whether he is a good surgical candidate. Dogs with diabetes and those with other underlying health problems may not be good candidates for surgery. You also need to consider the risks – this type of surgery comes with a risk for intraocular scar tissue, glaucoma, retinal detachment, and infection. Some dogs are also very sensitive to anesthesia which can make surgery risky.

Because cataracts are often a congenital problem in Boston Terriers, there may not be much you can do to prevent it. The best thing you can do is to purchase your Boston Terrier puppy from a responsible breeder who makes an effort not to breed dogs that have obvious health problems. In any case, you should also keep up with regular veterinary check-ups to monitor your dog’s eye health.

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