Cloudy Eyes In Dogs (Eyes Turning White)

Many canine friends can experience a change in their eye appearance over time.

Cloudy eyes are a fairly common development in senior dogs, with potential causes ranging from systemic disease to normal aging of the eyes.

Vision is an important sense to preserve in our aging pups, so it’s beneficial to be aware of the many eye complications that can develop over time.

The more we understand these eye changes and their causes, the better chance we have at preserving our dog’s quality of life.

In this article we will discuss the details of cloudy eyes in dogs, and help you better understand the potential conditions behind this ocular development.

Cloudy Eyes In Dogs

Are Cloudy Eyes Normal In Dogs?

Cloudy eyes can be a normal occurrence in middle age to senior dogs.

Though some dogs will develop a harmless cloudy haze as the years go by, others will suffer from significant eye complications that have a similar appearance.

Though a foggy eye can be normal in some dogs, it can point to significant vision impairment in others.

Unfortunately, we can’t distinguish between multiple eye conditions in our furry friends without a proper eye exam.

It’s impossible to determine the exact cause of your dog’s cloudy eyes without veterinary guidance, which is why this change in eye appearance should always be taken seriously.

Do Cloudy Eyes Impair A Dog’s Vision?

Some eye conditions that lead to cloudy eyes can significantly impair a dog’s vision.

Structures within the eye rely on light reflection to decipher imaging, and a cloudy film can make this much more challenging to accomplish.

This can be made even more complicated if inflammation and increased pressure is present, which can be possible in some of the eye conditions we will discuss.

The best way to know whether or not your dog is experiencing vision loss is by monitoring their behaviors at home, and having an eye exam performed by your veterinarian.

To help you better spot any evidence of vision loss in your pup, let’s list some of the most common indicators below.

Signs Of Vision Loss In Dogs

It can be difficult to spot any changes in vision in our furry friends.

Our pups cannot communicate their struggles, so it’s up to us to decipher clues in their daily behavior.

The most common signs of vision loss in dogs include:

  • Bumping into objects around your home
  • Being hesitant to jump on furniture or walk down/up stairs
  • Difficulty locating their food and water bowl
  • Appearing confused or disoriented at times
  • Difficulty moving around your home when it’s dark
  • Experiencing anxiety when in new settings
  • Appearing startled when touched
  • Changes in behavior such as aggression and anxiousness

If you notice any of the following symptoms in addition to a change in eye appearance, we suggest having your dog seen for an eye exam at your vet’s office.

Causes Of Cloudy Eyes In Dogs

When dogs develop cloudiness of the eye, many people chalk it up to two standard causes; cataracts or old age.

While this can certainly be the case for some pups, there are many other potential causes of cloudy eyes in our canine friends.

To help you better understand your dog’s eye changes, let’s discuss some of the most common causes of cloudy eyes in dogs below.

Nuclear Sclerosis

Sometimes a cloudy reflection on the eye is a result of a benign eye condition called nuclear sclerosis.

Nuclear sclerosis develops as a result of built up fibrous tissue within the lens, causing a hazy appearance as a result.

This is a normal aging process in the canine eye, and will not result in any blindness or discomfort. Most veterinarians can easily diagnose this condition with a quick eye examination.

Cataracts

Cataracts are one of the most well known causes of a cloudy eye appearance in dogs.

Cataracts can develop as a result of many health complications, ranging from canine diabetes to long term use of certain medications.

Dogs with cataracts will develop a milky lesion on the lens, eventually spreading across the eye as time goes on.

Mature cataracts can not only lead to total blindness, but they can also cause significant pain in severe cases.

Your veterinarian can diagnose cataracts in your dog by obtaining a medical history and performing a thorough eye exam.

Not only will your vet need to diagnose the cataracts themselves, but they will also need to determine the underlying condition that led to their cataract development.

Dry Eye

Just like you and I, our dogs can get dry eye. Dry eye in dogs, or keratoconjunctivitis sicca, is a condition that refers to decreased tear production present in one or both of the eyes.

The dry eye itself may not cause a cloudy appearance of the lens, but the long term impact of this condition certainly can.

Untreated dry eye in dogs can lead to corneal ulcers, scarring, and even significant vision impairment. Over time, these issues can cause a cloudy or hazy appearance of the lens.

Dry eye in dogs can be diagnosed with a thorough eye exam and a Schirmer tear test.

This will measure the eye’s ability to create lubrication, allowing your vet to determine if the value is within normal range.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is another potential factor behind cloudy eyes in dogs. Glaucoma is a painful condition that refers to increased pressure within the eye, often a result of the fluid within the eye being unable to drain properly.

The increased pressure within the eye can cause slight changes in appearance, ranging from an increase in eye size to a hazy lens.

If your vet fears glaucoma in your dog, they will likely perform an eye pressure test with a tonometer.

Glaucoma is considered a serious medical emergency in our canine friends, as it can quickly result in total blindness and unbearable pain.

Pannus

Pannus is an autoimmune disease that impacts the eye in our canine companions.

Though most common in German Shepherds, this disease can develop in any breed of dog.

Pannus is known for causing visible lesions on the cornea of the eye, often spreading until the disease process is halted.

This can lead to a cloudy appearance of the eye in some cases, and may even lead to significant vision impairment over time.

Your veterinarian can often diagnose pannus with a standard eye exam, as well as general diagnostics to rule out other eye conditions.

To make sure your pup is not experiencing any other eye complications, your vet will likely perform an eye stain, an eye pressure test, and even a Schirmer tear test.

Eye Ulcers

Corneal ulcers are a painful condition that can lead to a visible change in eye appearance.

Severe ulcers may even form a tiny white lesion on the cornea, especially when the ulcer leads to an eventual scar.

If the ulcer is large enough, it may cause a cloudy film on the lens. Dogs can develop a corneal ulcer in many situations, ranging from injuries to the eye or untreated eye conditions.

Your vet can diagnose a corneal ulcer by staining the affected eye. They may also perform a pressure test to rule out increased pressure within the eye, as well as a Schirmer tear test to rule out KCS.

Uveitis

Uveitis is another potential cause of changes in eye appearance in our canine companions.

Uveitis is a condition referring to inflammation of the uveal tract, leading to an array of irritating symptoms for the dog affected.

Uveitis in dogs can lead to excessive tear production, squinting, sensitivity to light, and even a hazy lens appearance.

If your dog is diagnosed with uveitis, there is often an underlying cause behind this sudden inflammation. You can expect your vet to perform eye diagnostics to rule out any underlying eye conditions, and even routine blood work to rule out systemic disease.

Treating Cloudy Eyes In Dogs

Treatment for your dog’s cloudy eyes will vary depending on the condition responsible for their symptoms.

Conditions like dry eye can be managed with the use of daily eye drops and artificial tears, while severe cataracts may need to be surgically removed to restore vision.

Every situation will vary, so we always suggest following the guidance of your veterinarian.

Every condition listed above can be effectively managed and even cured.

As long as you seek veterinary care from the moment you notice their symptoms, your pup should have a good chance at recovery.

When Should I See The Vet For My Dog’s Cloudy Eyes?

We suggest having your dog seen by your veterinarian from the moment you notice any changes in their eye appearance.

As we mentioned above, it is impossible to accurately diagnose any type of eye condition without a thorough exam performed by your vet.

Because of this, it is always best to be safe when dealing with any potential eye complications in our furry friends.

Even if it is just a case of nuclear sclerosis, it’s better to rule out other complications and have peace of mind going forward.

Though cataracts are always assumed when our dogs develop cloudy eyes, there are an array of potential eye complications that could be to blame.

To best preserve your dog’s vision going forward, we always suggest reaching out to your vet at the first sign of eye changes.

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