How Much Does Dog Cataract Surgery Cost?

dog sitting crying from eyeWas your dog diagnosed with cataracts? If so, you must know that they can develop due to eye trauma, as a result of several diseases such as diabetes, genetics as certain breeds are more susceptible to it or simply just from old age.

A cataract is a disease which causes cloudiness in the lens of the eye and as it becomes denser and thicker, it is likely to cause vision impairment and eventual total vision loss. Additionally, if left untreated it can cause severe and painful inflammation in the deep eye tissue, as well as complications like a detached retina or glaucoma.

Average Cost of a Dog Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery is a necessary procedure for many dogs, in order to prevent both vision loss and other undesirable complications. The earlier this is done in the timeline of the cataract development, the better.

However, not all dogs will need cataract surgery if the cataract is small enough, for example, that they don’t interfere with vision. Medications will need to be used in this case, however, in order to prevent the complications previously mentioned.

Note that only an ophthalmologist can determine this. As this is a major surgery, costs can be quite steep and there a number of steps involved – mainly the following:

  • Pre-Surgery Procedures

If you notice any of the symptoms of developing cataracts which include chronic eye redness, inflammation on and around the eye sockets, bulging of one eye compared to the other, vision problems or your dog is consistently trying to rub its eyes, you should contact your vet for an appointment as soon as possible.

Standard vet exams usually run around $50. For your dog to be diagnosed properly, further diagnostic tests need to be conducted. They will do thorough tests particularly focused on the eyes.

These include the use of a tonometer to measure the pressure in the eye and check if your dog has already developed glaucoma – a result of the cataract. which can add another $30 to $80 to your bill.

This ensures that proper medication is given to the dogs and the necessary adjustments to the operation are done.

From there, if they suspect cataracts are developing, they will refer you to a veterinary ophthalmologist.

An initial consultation will run around $100 to $200, as this is with a specialist, and depending on how many follow-ups and diagnostics tests are required, you may expect to pay up to $500 at this preliminary stage alone.

You can never be too sure, right? Now, if your dog is qualified for the surgery, the operation is scheduled.

  • Surgery Procedures

Once cataracts have been confirmed and surgery is recommended, there are a series of advanced diagnostics to determine the stage and severity in order to formulate the specifics of the prognosis. This can include an ocular ultrasound or electroretinography, a CAT scan, and additional blood work panels.

Electroretinograms run around $400 as the equipment is very precise and specialized. Ocular ultrasounds cost approximately $150 to $250 and a blood panel from a specialist is quoted at around $200.

These may or may not be included in the dog cataract surgery cost, depending on the clinic you are using.

The average cost of cataract surgery itself is around $1,500 to $3,500 per eye. Thankfully the surgery is fairly uncomplicated and actually is performed on an outpatient basis.

Complications are rare and the success rate is over 90%. The surgery cost includes anesthesia, the surgery and operating room usage, hospitalization, and postoperative medications and checkups.

Part of the surgery involves the insertion of an intraocular lens which is an artificial lens to replace the one that is removed from your animal.

If you elect not to have this inserted, your dog will lose its vision. However, there will be no further optical complications. One clinic was quoted as charging $200 per intraocular lens implanted added to the surgery cost.

The range in price of dog cataract surgery depends on your location and who is performing the surgery. It’s important to shop around and get quotes from various ophthalmologists in your area in order to save money.

Some other factors include whether the surgery is done with one eye or both, and if one wants intraocular or artificial lenses (IOL) to be inserted.

Eye Specialists for Animals is one of the very few veterinary clinics clearly stating its price list. It offers the following prices:

  • One eye, without IOL – $2,500
  • One eye, with IOL – $2,750
  • Both eyes without IOL – $3,300
  • Both eyes with one IOL – $3,500
  • Both eyes with two IOLs – $3,700

As you might know, eye surgeries are very delicate. In the case of cataract surgery, everything is done under a microscope all throughout the procedure.

As you may imagine, only highly trained, board-certified veterinary ophthalmologists can perform the surgery. This means higher than normal veterinarian professional fees.

  • Post-Surgery Procedures

After surgery, your dog may need some time in the hospital for proper monitoring. This time, hospitalization prices may vary from hospital to hospital across states.

Nonetheless, most dogs are permitted to return home the same day without hospitalization.

Medication such as eye drops and antibiotics will also be prescribed. This may be required for weeks, months, or for the rest of the dog’s lifetime to guarantee perfect recovery.

Eye medications have a large variation in price. Some may need to be compounded by a pharmacist. Eye medication can range from $10 to $100 per a bottle.

Antioxidant supplements may also be advised to avoid further tissue scarring and other complications.

Immediately after the surgery, your dog is also required to wear a cone-shaped restraint Elizabeth collar for the next two weeks to prevent further eye injury. These cost  $10 to $30. Follow-up visits to the veterinary ophthalmologist should also be done to ensure that no complications have occurred.

When recovery goes well, dogs may regain their vision once the incisions are healed. Around 90% of vision will be restored; not 100%. This is because of the scars left by the procedure.

Fortunately, cataracts will not recur. But this is not an assurance that other eye diseases will not occur. If other complications arise, they may still give rise to problems with vision.

Patty Khuly, VMD, MBA is a prolific pet health writer, occasional media personality, and a practicing veterinary clinician (for almost 23 years!).

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