Source: The Albuquerque Journal
By Dr. Jeff Nichol / For the Journal
PUBLISHED: Friday, August 1, 2014 at 12:05 am
Q: I have an 11-year-old Maltese just diagnosed with diabetes. The veterinarian and I are getting her insulin stabilized but she’s gone blind already with diabetic cataracts.
With all I’m doing right now, stabilizing her is a large financial hardship but I’m not willing to give her up. I need to find an ophthalmologist who could remove the cataracts without financially breaking me.
Dr. Nichol: Diabetes is common in small dogs. Most do well with a consistent daily routine of measured feedings and insulin injections.
Sadly, permanent lens damage (cataracts) is to be expected in nearly every diabetic dog – even those who are diagnosed early. With proper medical care the outlook is good for normal vision and a great quality of life for most of them.
Your regular veterinarian is well-trained in the treatment of diabetes but your dog’s eyes need specialized care. I asked local veterinary ophthalmologist Dr. Gavin Kennard for input. He pointed out that “rapid onset cataracts cause uveitis. If not adequately addressed this leads to more sinister conditions, namely lens luxation and/or glaucoma.”
In layman’s terms, those degenerating lenses inside your dog’s eyes can break loose from their moorings, causing internal eye damage and dangerously high pressures. Kennard added that, “these secondary conditions are extremely painful and will cause permanent blindness due to retinal damage.”
Your dog’s eyes need anti-inflammatory medications ASAP. But before considering surgery to remove her cataracts the eye doctor will need to determine if her retinas are still OK.
There would be no point in operating if she would still be blind. She needs a complete ophthalmic examination and an electroretinogram (ERG). If her eyes are healthy internally, cataract removal would restore her vision. Your Maltese needs to visit a veterinary ophthalmologist soon.
This is a difficult situation for you and your good dog. Modern medicine and surgery do great things but you are right that it won’t be cheap. There are ways of breaking the costs into bite-sized pieces. Albuquerque’s veterinary ophthalmologists accept credit cards as well as financing through lenders. In some cases you can postpone payment for six months without interest.
Your dog is important to you. Please don’t even consider giving up on her.
Dr. Jeff Nichol treats behavior disorders at the Veterinary Specialty Centers in Albuquerque and Santa Fe (505-792-5131). He cares for the medical needs of pets at the Petroglyph Animal Hospital in Albuquerque (898-8874). Question? Post it on facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by mail to 4000 Montgomery NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109. Unpublished questions may not be answered individually.