Cataracts in Dogs

My 8-year-old dachshund, Pepper, has cloudy eyes but she seems to see fine. Is it cataracts?

Chances are you’re seeing a condition called lenticular (or nuclear) sclerosis—a hardening of the central region of the lens that does not impair eyesight but will give Pepper’s peepers that gray-blue haze often confused with cataracts. While cataracts afflict 16 percent of dogs age 7 or older and can cause blindness, lenticular sclerosis is a common and relatively harmless part of aging, like a graying muzzle. Maintaining good canine eye health begins by inhibiting oxidation, which produces damaging free radicals, says holistic veterinarian and naturopath Judy Stolz, DVM, ND. Stolz recommends the following antioxidant supplements to protect Pepper’s eyes from further damage; check with your holistic vet for the right dosage for your dog:

Bilberry extract (Vaccinium myrtillus), aka the “vision herb,” contains anthocyanosides that scavenge free radicals from around the retina while increasing delivery of oxygen and blood to the whole eye.

A multivitamin with vitamin E and A may help. Low levels of E have been associated with cataracts in people, and increasing vitamin A may reverse dry-eye syndrome.

Lutein and zeaxanthin protect against macular degeneration by helping to maintain the blood vessels that flow into and out of the retina.

Zinc is a mineral found in healthy retinal tissue that protects against harmful light and inflammation.