Lenticular sclerosis in dogs, also known as nuclear sclerosis, is a normal aging change in the dog’s lenses that results in that bluish haze you see in your senior dogs’ eyes. It is not painful, and it will never make your dog blind. The important thing is to distinguish lenticular sclerosis from cataracts, which is a whole different ballgame. That’s why you should have your veterinarian examine your dog if you’re starting to notice this bluish haze.
Dog’s Normal Aging Eye
Lenticular sclerosis happens in pretty much every dog as they age. There’s really no escaping it. The lens is a dynamic structure made up of fibers within a capsule. Over time, old fibers degenerate and new fibers are laid down. Because the fibers are encased in a firm capsule and have nowhere to go, the older more central fibers get compressed, making them denser and less transparent. This is what creates that bluish haze, which usually affects both eyes equally. Fortunately, lenticular/nuclear sclerosis will never make your dog blind, although he or she will likely not see subtle things like your facial expressions as clearly and will likely not navigate as confidently in low-light situations.
Diagnosis Is Important
With the help of special light source instruments, your veterinarian can distinguish lenticular sclerosis from cataracts. This is important, as cataracts will progress to blindness and are best addressed early in their progression. Cataracts, as opposed to the benign lenticular sclerosis, can cause secondary, painful diseases in the eye like uveitis and glaucoma. Careful monitoring of dogs with cataracts is recommended, and your veterinarian may recommend a surgical consult with a veterinary ophthalmic specialist. Early surgical removal of cataracts prevents secondary issues and preserves vision for your dog.
If you’re noticing a bluish haze in your aging dog’s eyes, but he does not seem to be having any trouble seeing, the eyes appear otherwise normal, and your dog is acting otherwise fine, there is no need to panic. There is a high likelihood this is simply the lenticular sclerosis expected with age. Still, you need to see your veterinarian to confirm and rule out the less benign situation that is cataracts.