One of the things that comes under the heading of “I didn’t know that” is that people’s eyes and dogs’ eyes are very similar genetically. In fact, people’s eye genes and some species of dog eyes are so similar, that some dog breeds are used to test out cures for various eye diseases in humans. This truly gives new meaning to the phrase ‘seeing eye dogs’.
Even lasik could be performed on dogs if only we knew how to measure the improvement in their vision after surgery. But I don’t thing that we will be seeing dog eye charts any time soon. Macular degeneration in people is the same as progressive retinal atrophy in dogs. The retina, over time, degenerates because retinal cells die off, leaving a smaller and smaller area that is able to record images and send these images to the brain to register as sight.
Dogs can even get cataract surgery just like people can. Cataracts are especially prevalent in dogs that have diabetes and they can develop to the point, like people, where there is no light reaching the back of the eye and therefore no vision. I can tell you from first hand experience that having cataracts removed and watching as a dog sees well again after months of cloudy vision is worth every penny it costs.
Another similarity is that really good dog ophthalmologists that are also surgeons learn cataract surgery from the same people that teach it to human eye surgeons. The procedures are the same. The only difference really is that you can warn people not to rub or touch their eyes after surgery so that healing can begin and not be disrupted. But dogs must live in the dreaded cone, also known as an Elizabethan collar, so that they don’t scratch and rub their eyes for about six weeks. It might also surprise you to know that administering eye drops, both anti inflammatory and antibacterial eye drops, in dogs is usually easier than doing the same for another person — who has a say in the matter.