Can We Prevent Cataracts In Diabetic Dogs?

By Dr . Joi Sutton|2023-09-26T11:55:26-04:00Updated: August 29th, 2013|Pet Care, Pet Diabetes, Pet Newsletter|0 Comments

Last year we discussed the formation of cataracts in diabetic dogs. Unfortunately, about 75% of diabetic dogs will develop cataracts within the first 2 years of diagnosis of diabetes and eventually most diabetic dogs will develop them.

In the past we have heard that it is inevitable and owners need to learn to live with a blind dog. However, top notch diabetic pet owners can try to fight the process by managing their diabetic pet closely. Perhaps we are on the cusp of new therapies that may at least delay the onset of diabetic cataracts in dogs.

Good glycemic control:

It makes sense that if we achieve good glycemic control the onset of cataract formation would be delayed. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and once a cataract starts it seems to mature rapidly in diabetics. I am so thankful that we now have such wonderfully simple blood glucose meters available that require miniscule amounts of blood. These user friendly monitors allow diabetic pet owners to do home glucose monitoring with great accuracy. Our ability to regulate these diabetic pets is much less expensive and much more accurate than when a pet needed to go to the vet clinic for a day of glucose checks. If we keep the blood glucose levels near the normal range, we have a better chance of delaying diabetic cataracts.


This topical eye medication is currently in clinical trials in the United States but not yet on the market. A study published in Vet Opthalmology in 2010 showed that this medication can “ameliorate the onset or progression of cataracts in dogs with naturally occurring diabetes mellitus”. We at ADW will let you know if it makes it through clinical trials and becomes commercially available. Cataracts can occur from numerous causes. Diabetic dogs form cataracts because of excess sugar in the fluid that surrounds the lens in the eye. All the excess sugar in the fluids around the lens gets metabolized by an enzyme that forms sorbitol. The sorbitol molecules draw water into the lens and the lens swells, forming a cataract. Theoretically, Kinostat stops the enzyme that forms sorbitol. Let’s hope this medication passes the clinical trials and comes to the veterinary market. This medication won’t remove a cataract, but it can hopefully prevent diabetic cataracts or at least slow their progression.


I recently met a non-diabetic patient with cataracts. He was on a supplement from another veterinarian for his cataracts. I made a mental note to myself to research this as soon as possible. I hoped perhaps there had been some breakthrough I hadn’t heard of. My med search came up empty. Despite claims for various supplements, there is still no proven medical treatment that removes cataracts. Surgery is still the only treatment to remove cataracts.

NOTE: Consult your veterinarian to confirm that my recommendations are applicable for the health needs of your pet.

About the Author: Dr . Joi Sutton

Dr. Joi Sutton is a 1993 graduate from Oregon State University. She has practiced both in emergency medicine and general practice. Dr. Sutton has done extensive international volunteer work though Veterinary Ventures, a nonprofit organization that takes teams of veterinarians to undeveloped countries for humane medical care. She also runs a small animal practice in South Florida. Connect with Dr. Joi on LinkedIn

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