Q: About 3 years ago, our female poodle started to develop gray spots within her eyes that didn't seem to bother her very much. She is now almost 11 years old, and the grayness in both eyes has become denser looking. She still seems to get around pretty well but occasionally seems to get lost when we call her until she gets her bearings. She is still playful and eats very well. Every once in a while, she gets a mucus-like discharge from her eyes, but they don't seem to be sore. We haven't worried about her until this last week, when she started to get lost more frequently. Is she losing her vision? Are these gray areas tumors, and can they be treated? She is such a friendly, playful dog that I hate to think that she might be blind.
A: The gray areas that you describe may be developing cataracts, which become denser and more noticeable as they mature. Eventually, your pet may become blind because the cataracts will not let light penetrate to the back of the eye. I recommend that you have your pet's eyes examined to determine whether these are truly cataracts and not an injury to the corneas. Cataracts can be removed surgically with good success, but the eyes must be evaluated to see whether the retinas are still functional. This will require a referral to a veterinary ophthalmologist, who will have the specialized equipment to make such an evaluation and advise you as to the expected outcome of lens surgery. Your regular veterinarian may need blood tests to evaluate her condition before any surgery, as well as rule out possible causes of cataracts, such as diabetes.