Each year, like their human owners, millions of dogs develop cataracts. Without treatment the cataracts progress eventually causing significant loss of eyesight, even blindness.
Dogs are prone to cataracts with nearly half of all dogs having them before the age of 9 years and virtually all dogs, approximately 7 million of them, having them in later life.
Currently there is only one treatment for cataracts, costly but effective surgery. The surgical treatment for cataracts involves the removal of the affected lens by either dissolving the lens with an enzyme or ultrasonic breakup of the lens. A new synthetic lens is then placed and is sutured. Sight improvement is usually immediate. Since the new lens is not adjustable, improved sight is limited to close up or far away, but not both. Although the surgery is fairly safe, there are complications that range from dry eye syndrome to loss of sight. For our canine friends, uncomplicated cataract surgery averages $3400 per eye, which puts it out of range for most dog owners. Ultimately, a majority of dogs with cataracts will lose their eyesight.
Recently, a study done by Dr. Kang Zhang at the Univ. of California, San Diego, a chemical, lanosterol, was found to be remarkably effective in reversing cataract formations when used in eye drop form. Lanosterol is thought to dissolve clumped lens proteins formed by oxidative stress, ultraviolet light, trauma, and/or glycation of lens proteins. All of these agents cause the lens to cloud up and not allow light to pass through.
In the study on dogs, lanosterol eye drops were given twice daily for six weeks. The findings were that lanosterol eye drops dramatically reduced the severity of the cataracts.
As encouraging as this study is, lanosterol eye drops are still in preliminary studies and may not be available for a few years.
There is, however, another eye drop treatment available over the counter that has produced equally remarkable results…n-acetylcarnosine (NAC) eye drops (brand name, Can-C).
In initial studies done by Dr. Mark Babizheyev (for studies, click here), NAC eye drops in test animals and humans showed remarkably fast results in improving and/or eliminating cataracts.
More recently, a study that appeared in the May 2009 issue of the American Journal of Therapeutics reported that NAC eye drops were very effective against existing cataracts. The study reported:
· 88.9% of patients treated with NAC had improvement in glare sensitivity from 27% to 100%
· 41.5% had significant improvement in transmissivity of the lens
· 90% showed an improvement in visual acuity
· Patients in the placebo group showed no change at 6 months and gradual deterioration at 12 to 24 months.
When all is said and done, it simply makes sense to begin using n-acetylcarnosine eye drops as a cataract preventative. According to all reports, it is a safe and effective treatment for the prevention and reversal of canine cataracts.
The recommended dosage for the prevention of cataracts is one drop in each eye, daily.
The recommended dosage for the treatment of existing cataracts is one drop in each eye, 2-3 times daily until lens clears (or vet confirms lens is clear) then one drop daily in each eye.
It is important to note that many brands of n-acetylcarnosine have hit the market as it becomes popular and some may not be the same formulation as the one in the studies. I know the brand, Can-C is the same formula. I cannot vouch for the others.
If you have had any experience with this product please leave us a comment below. Be sure to share this important information with others.
This article is for educational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose or treat any condition. If you have questions about this information, please discuss it with your veterinarian.