Animals experience some physical and mental ailments that are mostly associated with humans. Conditions such as anxiety, depression and deafness have been treated similarly in both human and animal patients.
The list of shared diseases and conditions is long, and being added to with every discovery of a new treatment method or plan. One of these that is still being researched and tested is the use of a special type of ‘contact lens’ being used to treat animals that are experiencing difficulties as a result of cataract development.
Cataracts Cause Cloudy Vision
Cataracts are a condition of the eye that result from a thickening or hardening of the crystalline lens located inside of the eye. Cataracts in humans are most often associated with older age. These types of cataracts, called senile cataracts, cloud the crystalline lens due to the thickening and lack of flexibility that has occurred over a lifetime. However, there are several kinds of cataracts, and age is not the only risk factor.
Cataracts cause cloudy vision, as well as increased glare making vision blurred. This type of blur cannot be corrected in humans with eyeglasses or traditional contact lenses, which rest on the surface of the eye. To correct vision, a new, clear lens has to be placed inside of the eye replacing the old, rigid and clouded lens. This lens, called an intraocular lens, restores youthful vision to the patient and many times it is successful enough that the wearer needs little or no correction to view distances.
Cataracts in Dogs
Many animals are affected by the same types of cataracts that affect human vision. In dogs, cataracts develop for many reasons. Most are inherited and may occur at any age. Some are caused by diabetes or rupture, while some canine cataracts develop with age.
Once the clouding of the crystalline lens progresses far enough, the animal is unable to see any longer. The animal would experience trouble with everyday tasks such as self-navigation, and caring for young. An affliction such as this significantly impacts the quality of life available to that animal, especially because the lifespan of animals is quite short relative to a human life expectancy.
Until the late twentieth century, there was no successful means of treating this type of blindness in any kind of animal.
Sea Lions and Kangaroo among ‘Contact Lens’ Wearers
S&V Technologies, a German firm founded by Dr. Christine Kreiner, has developed the technology and a procedure that finally makes vision correction possible for animals using an intraocular lens. It has successfully been used on several animals including a sea lion at Sea World in San Diego, California, and a blind kangaroo in Australia. This treatment has proven successful on many occasions. So many, in fact, that the World Wildlife Fund has even sponsored some of these surgeries, namely intraocular lens placement in brown bears located in China.
These lens replacement surgeries have been performed on all species of animals and all sizes, from the very small to very large!