Cataracts in French bulldogs is one of the most severe conditions that affect their vision. As we all know, dogs rely on their senses constantly, and conditions like cataracts, which can significantly disrupt and threaten their vision, can negatively impact their quality of life.
Fortunately, early detection of cataracts is among the best ways to prevent blindness and other complications. In the following lines, you’ll learn more about how cataracts develop in French bulldogs, their symptoms, ways to prevent them, and how to help your pet if they’re affected.
What are cataracts in French bulldogs?
When we talk about cataracts in French bulldogs, it’s important to know what symptoms to look for, what causes them, and what vets can do to treat them successfully. This blog post can help you take preventative measures and get your dog the treatment they need.
While there are some differences, dogs’ eyes are quite similar to ours. They have pupils, corneas, lenses, rods, and cones, just like we do.
For dogs, and for us, seeing requires light to bounce off the objects we’re looking at and travel through the eye’s complex optical structure. The lens in the eye helps refract and focus the light into a clear image.
The cornea is a tissue that lines the inside of the eye where light-sensitive cells, called photoreceptors, are located. These cells capture the images that the eye sees by refracting light, and then transmit these images to the brain via the optic nerves, which reproduce them in our minds.
Because their eyes are similar to ours, dogs can experience some of the same eye conditions as we do. One such condition is cataracts in French bulldogs, where the lens in the eye becomes cloudy or imperfect. In technical terms, cataracts in French bulldogs refer to opacity or imperfection of the eye’s lens.
Since their eyes are similar to humans, dogs can develop some of the same eye conditions as we do. One eye condition that our canine friends share with us is cataracts – or cloudy lenses for the eyes.
What exactly does that mean?
Just like a camera lens, the eye lens of your Frenchie focuses light and should be crystal clear. When a dog has a cataract, it obscures its vision.
Here’s a better explanation of cataracts in French bulldogs!
The eye lenses of your dog contain water and proteins. Cataracts in dogs occur when the proteins start to clump and form a substance similar to a cloud in the eye lens. When the eye lens becomes cloudy, dogs develop a cataract (opacity of the eye lens), which causes blurry vision.
The eye lens projects images onto the retina, similar to the function of a camera lens. When it becomes cloudy, light cannot reach the retina, which causes blindness.
Mature cataracts appear as a white disk behind your dog’s iris. That is, the part of the eye that usually looks black will now appear white.
Cataracts in French bulldogs (also known as canine cataracts) can be as small as a point on the eye lens, which cannot be easily noticed in most dogs.
However, as the balance between water and proteins in the lens becomes more and more disturbed, and when the protein concentration predominates, the condition can grow to the size of the entire lens surface, which can cloud the entire lens.
Small cataracts can cause minimal visual disturbances. However, the larger and denser they are, the more likely they are to cause blindness. For this reason, cataracts in French bulldogs must be carefully monitored.
It’s important to know this too! Cataracts can start small and gradually grow larger, but they can also appear overnight and completely blind your dog.
What are the causes of cataracts in French bulldogs?
There are several causes that can lead to this eye condition in dogs. Here are some of them:
Eye trauma or damage
The lens consists of special cells that produce protein fibers. When these cells or protein fibers are damaged, cataracts can occur.
High levels of blood sugar can alter the metabolism of lens cells and can cause very rapid cataracts. Almost all diabetic dogs develop cataracts within a year of diagnosis.
The most common reason for cataracts in humans is damage due to exposure to ultraviolet light. UV light can also contribute to cataracts in dogs, but it is not the most common cause. It usually develops later in a dog’s life as a result of UV light exposure.
Another cause is genetics, meaning it may be present from birth or develop when the dog is young. Inherited cataracts are one of the most common causes. Scientists have identified genetic mutations that increase the risk of over 100 breeds developing cataracts. Breeds such as poodles, cocker spaniels, Siberian huskies, Yorkshire terriers, golden retrievers, labradors, and many others are most commonly affected by inherited cataracts.
If your dog happens to carry a gene mutation, they have an increased risk of developing cataracts. Genetic testing is available, but keep in mind that not every dog with a mutation will develop cataracts, just as some without a mutation may develop them.
Inherited cataracts in dogs usually occur between the ages of 1 and 5.
Cataracts in French bulldogs can also occur due to:
- Nutritional disorders or deficiencies
- Electrical shock
- Hypocalcemia (low blood calcium levels)
- Certain treatments used to treat cancer
- Symptoms of cataracts in dogs
The first indication of cataracts in dogs is usually a cloudy appearance of the pet’s eyes. This eye cloudiness alone cannot automatically diagnose cataracts because many dogs develop some eye cloudiness as they age. However, when you notice the mentioned changes, it is important to take your dog to the veterinarian immediately.
They will best assess and perform the necessary tests to check if there is a cataract or if your pet has other health problems.
Other signs that can point to cataracts in French bulldogs include:
- Redness of the eyes that doesn’t go away
- Inflammation of the eye socket
- Vision problems
- Scratching at the eyes
How to recognize that your Frenchie has issues with vision?
One of the most challenging things about owning a pet is that they cannot tell you what is wrong. Therefore, it can be difficult to detect vision problems in your dog before they become more severe.
Some signs that your Frenchie may have problems with vision include:
- Bumping into things, especially in low light
- Suddenly not seeking treats with their gaze, but finding them by sniffing
- Changes in your dog’s usual abilities
What complications can cataracts in French bulldogs cause?
If left untreated, cataracts in Frenchies can cause many unpleasant symptoms and conditions, including:
- Painful eye inflammation
- Blockage of fluid drainage in the eye (occurs when untreated cataracts slip from tissue and float to another place)
- Glaucoma, which can lead to permanent blindness
Many dogs will develop some cloudiness in their eyes as they age, and this condition is called nuclear sclerosis. It differs from cataracts in that it usually does not cause significant vision problems except for some focusing issues.
Nuclear sclerosis usually does not require treatment, and a veterinarian can determine the difference between nuclear sclerosis and cataracts by examining the eye with an ophthalmoscope.
Pay attention to the distinction between cataracts and nuclear sclerosis!
People often mix cataracts and nuclear sclerosis and these two conditions should not be confused. Nuclear sclerosis is cloudiness caused by the hardening of the lens as the dog ages. All animals experience this change with age.
In the case of nuclear sclerosis, the good news is that light still has a chance to pass through and contact the retina, so your dog can still see. Of course, they will see worse, but they will not collide with items around the house.
On the other hand, Frenchies with nuclear sclerosis can still develop cataracts. Therefore, regular veterinary checkups are important.
How is cataract diagnosed in dogs?
If you suspect your French bulldog has a cataract, make an appointment with your veterinarian. They will thoroughly examine your Frenchie’s eyes. Using strong light and special instruments, the veterinarian can detect a cataract that is just forming or is immature and has not yet affected the dog’s vision.
The veterinarian can also examine other eye problems, such as anterior uveitis (inflammation) and glaucoma (increased pressure), which can occur with cataracts.
Through blood and blood pressure analysis, systemic diseases of dogs that affect vision, such as diabetes and hypertension, can be detected. All findings are examined together. Clinical signs and test results will provide detailed information about your dog’s eye health.
Cataracts in French bulldogs can develop very slowly or almost overnight. You probably won’t notice any changes in your dog during the early stages, but when it advances (completely blocks the transmission of light to the retina), they will become blind.
You will notice that your dog bumps into walls or furniture, is unsure about stairs, and has trouble finding food and water bowls.
However, dogs are very adaptable and quickly learn to function without sight. In fact, if the cataract develops slowly, you may not even notice that your Frenchie has gone blind.
Cataract treatment in French bulldogs
Cataracts in French bulldogs will not go away on their own; they need to be treated appropriately. Surgery is most commonly used to treat cataracts, but eye drops, ointments, or certain medications can also help.
Unfortunately, only surgery can completely remove a cataract while drops and ointments can only delay the need for surgery.
Seek advice from your veterinarian as they can discuss the options you have and which treatment option is best for your pet.
Cataract surgery in French bulldogs
Unfortunately, no eye drops or tablets can reverse the changes in the lens. Fortunately, there is a highly effective surgical treatment.
Like humans, animals – including dogs, cats, horses, and even goldfish – can have cataract surgery to remove the clouded lens and restore vision. An ophthalmologist for pets can determine if your dog is a good candidate.
Before the procedure, the dog will undergo a detailed eye and general health examination.
During cataract surgery, the surgeon will remove the cataract and replace your dog’s eye lens with an artificial lens to restore vision. This surgery has a good success rate in pets that are generally healthy.
Cataracts in French bulldogs: Conclusion
Eye resting and avoiding unnecessary strain is crucial for a dog’s eye health. Additionally, ensure plenty of shade for your Frenchie when they are outside. It’s best to steer clear of walking your dog during intense sunlight, especially when UV radiation is high.
A French bulldog’s diet must be customized to suit their specific condition, as certain nutrients in kibble play a significant role in combating cataracts.
For instance, a high-quality diet with an antioxidant supplement can prove extremely beneficial in the healing process. Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish oil, can improve eye health as well as overall heart, brain, joint, and skin health.