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My older pet has cloudy eyes, what does this mean? Nuclear Sclerosis in dogs and cats

Nuclear Sclerosis, also known as Lenticular Sclerosis, occurs in older pets and causes the eyes to look cloudy. Although these changes may look scary, this is actually a normal aging change.

What is Nuclear Sclerosis?

The lens of the eye gives the eye the ability to focus on objects by transmitting light to the retina at the back of the eye.  It is made up of tissue fibres that are normally clear. But as pets get older, more fibres come together in the lens and as the fibres become denser, the lens becomes increasingly opaque, giving the eye a blue-grey sheen.

Which pets are affected?

Any aging pet can be affected by Nuclear Sclerosis but according to PetSure data from the 2020 calendar year it was most prevalent in the following breeds:

BreedPrevalence
Shih Tzu0.19%
Australian Silky Terrier0.19%
Fox terrier Smooth0.14%
Poodle-Standard0.10%
Maltese0.09%
Poodle-Toy0.07%
Bichon Frise0.05%
Beagle0.04%
Whippet0.04%
German Short haired Pointer0.04%

Prevalence = Total number of unique claiming pets / total number of insured pets across 12-month period. Excludes breeds with less than 500 active pet insurance policies.

Signs of Nuclear Sclerosis

Often the first sign of Nuclear Sclerosis is a blueish or cloudy haze in both eyes. It might look like it comes and goes but this can be due to the lens changing size in different light. It can be easy to mix up Nuclear Sclerosis with cataracts, but your Vet will be able to examine your pet’s eyes and advise you. Generally, pets with Nuclear Sclerosis don’t have significant vision loss, so if you think your pet might be having problems seeing, get in touch with your Vet straight away as something more serious could be going on.

Management of Nuclear Sclerosis

Generally, there is no specific treatment for Nuclear Sclerosis, and management is about having regular check-ups of the eyes to make sure that no other problems are developing behind the scenes, such as cataracts.

How much does it cost to treat?

PetSure claims data from the 2020 calendar year show the average single treatment for Nuclear Sclerosis was $134, and the highest single treatment $396.

Is Nuclear sclerosis covered by pet insurance?

Nuclear Sclerosis is generally covered by Comprehensive Accidental Injury and Illness pet insurance policies administered by PetSure (check our brand partners at petsure.com.au/partners), unless related to a pre-existing condition or exclusion. Refer to your policy documents including Certificate of Insurance and Product Disclosure Statement for more information on whether this condition is covered under your policy.

References

  1. Davis, R, 2021, Cataract, VINCYCLOPEDIA OF DISEASES, accessed on 8/7/21
  2. Clode, A, Differentiating Nuclear Sclerosis From Cataracts, Clinician’s Brief, 2016, accessed on 08/07/2021
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