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Cloudy Eyes in Dogs

Cloudy Eyes in Dogs: Definition, Causes, and Treatments

Cloudy eyes in dogs are the development of a hazy film or discoloration over the transparent cornea or lens. 

Clouding co-exists with red eyes and other ocular symptoms, causing the dog discomfort, vision issues, anxiety, and behavioral changes. 

Nuclear sclerosis, cataracts, glaucoma, dry eyes, ulcers, anterior uveitis, corneal dystrophy, eye infections, eye injury, and age-related changes are common causes of cloudy eyes in dogs. 

Prompt veterinary attention is warranted for cloudy eyes in dogs. A dog cloudy eye suddenly developing is more urgent compared to gradual clouding due to its severity. 

The treatment for dogs eyes cloudy depends on the underlying cause and includes topical meds (ey drops and ointments), systemic medications, surgery, and eye supplements. 

What is Cloudy Eyes in Dogs?

Cloudy eyes in dogs occur when the transparent cornea develops a hazy film or a milky white contusion, ranging from milky white to grey to blue. 

The hazy film and discoloration are easily noticeable because the cornea is crystal clear. Other signs like redness, increased tearing, discharge, and behavioral changes accompany cloudy eyes in dogs.   

Natural aging and underlying eye problems are the main answers to the question, “Why are my dogs eyes cloudy?” Depending on the underlying cause, cloudiness causes vision impairment or does not affect eyesight.  

The process of dog eyes getting cloudy ranges in terms of pain severity. Prompt veterinary attention is necessary to determine the cause and prevent the issue from degenerating. 

How is Cloudy Eyes in Dogs Related to Red Eyes?

Cloudy eyes in dogs are related to red eyes as they co-exist in many conditions. Red eyes are for inflammatory eye conditions. 

Inflammation expands the blood vessels in the eye, giving the white of the eye a reddish or pink discoloration. Inflammation is progressive and causes damage over time. Clouding is a telltale sign of damage in the eye structures. 

Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), ulcers, glaucoma, and cataracts are some conditions in which the dogs eye is red and cloudy simultaneously. 

How Does Cloudy Eyes Affect Dogs?

The ways in which cloudy eyes affect dogs are listed below. 

  • Pain or Discomfort: Certain causes of cloudy eyes in dogs are painful, and others are uncomfortable. Glaucoma is an example of an aching eye condition manifesting with cloudiness. 
  • Vision Deficits: Cloudiness is accompanied by vision impairment based on the cause. Dogs with affected vision have difficulty navigating their surroundings, stumble into furniture, refuse to go outside the house, and are bewildered. 
  • Anxiety: Pain and related vision problems create anxiety in the dogs. The effects of stress in dogs range from disruptive to destructive. Canine anxiety significantly lowers the dog’s quality of life. 
  • Behavioral Changes: Behavioral changes materialize due to pain and anxiety. Some dogs become clingy and overly attached to their owners, while others get snappy and easily irritable. 

What Caused Dogs Eyes Cloudy?

The causes of dogs eyes cloudy are listed below. 

  • Nuclear Sclerosis: Nuclear sclerosis is painless eye clouding due to the accumulation of fibrous tissue in the lens in middle-aged to senior dogs. 
  • Cataracts: Cataracts are a progressive opacity of the lens that grows, obscuring light entering the retina and culminating in vision loss or blindness. 
  • Glaucoma: Glaucoma is an eye condition caused by increased intraocular pressure or IOP, resulting in enlarged eyeballs, increased tearing, and clouding. 
  • Dry Eyes: Dry eyes (keratoconjunctivitis sicca or KCS) are chronic inflammation caused by reduced tear production or lowered tear quality. 
  • Ulcers: Ulcers are open sores on the surface of the eye. Corneal ulcers are triggered by scratching, pawing, or trauma and cause vision deficits if left untreated.  
  • Anterior Uveitis: Anterior uveitis is inflammation affecting the frontal inside structures of the eye, resulting in cloudiness, squinting, tearing, and light sensitivity.  
  • Corneal Dystrophy: Corneal dystrophy is the buildup of fats and calcium in the cornea and is a genetic predisposition among certain dog breeds. 
  • Eye Infections: Eye infections are caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites and, if left untreated, cause eye damage, manifesting in cloudy eyes. 
  • Eye Injury: Eye injuries include traumatic events and foreign bodies in the eye. Injuries damage the eye, causing cloudiness and, unless promptly treated, blindness. 
  • Age-Related Changes: Common age-related opacity-causing eye conditions in dogs include corneal endothelial dystrophy (CED) and senile iris atrophy.  

1. Nuclear Sclerosis

Nuclear sclerosis or lenticular sclerosis is an age-related change that causes hazy, blue-gray eye discoloration. 

The condition develops when old fibrous tissue accumulates in the lens. The amassed tissue puts pressure on the central lens fibers.

Nuclear sclerosis affects both eyes but does not cause pain or significant vision damage. The cloudy eyes are a cosmetic issue and do not require treatment. 

2. Cataracts

Cataracts are lens opacity caused by changes in water or protein balance. The condition is genetic in Terriers, Poodles, and Miniature Schnauzers or caused by diseases such as diabetes. 

Cataracts begin as a cloudy spot and grow, eventually shrouding the entire lens. The cloudiness blocks light from reaching the retina, reducing vision. 

The lens’ gray, blue, or milky white appearance in cataracts in dogs is associated with gradually progressive vision loss, eventually culminating in blindness. 

3. Glaucoma

Glaucoma is an eye condition manifesting with increased intraocular pressure (IOP). The IOP damages the optic nerve and cornea, causing cloudiness. 

Glaucoma is widespread among certain breeds, such as Terriers, Basset Hounds, Huskies, and Dalmatians. The condition is excruciating and leads to blindness. 

Eye cloudiness is not a significant symptom of glaucoma in dogs. The condition is eye-damaging and causes vision loss independently, regardless of cloudy eyes.  

4. Dry Eyes

Dry eyes, or keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), are a chronic eye inflammation caused by tear problems. The top causes are low tear production and reduced tear quality. 

The dry inflammation associated with KCS damages the cornea, causing cloudiness. The cloudy film impairs vision to a certain degree. 

Cloudiness caused by dry eye in dogs is treatable. KCS treatment begins with applying lactrostimulants or artificial tears to the dog’s eyes. 

5. Ulcers

Ulcers are open sores in the cornea. Corneal ulcers are deep defects that damage several eye layers and are common among brachycephalic (‘short-nosed’ or ‘flat-faced’) dogs. 

Cloudy eyes develop when the ulcers go deep enough to cause significant damage. Ulcers are excruciating and lead to blindness if left untreated. 

Clouding during ulcer development indicates progressed damage. Immediate treatment helps control ulcers in dogs and resolves cloudiness in some instances. 

6. Anterior Uveitis

Anterior uveitis is inflammation of the uvea, the middle layer of the eye that lies just beneath the sclera (the white portion of the eye). 

Uveitis is caused by trauma, infection, and systemic illness. The inflammation triggers the accumulation of proteins and inflammatory cells, giving the eye a cloudy appearance. 

Oral antibiotics and topical eye drops are used to relieve inflammation. Prompt treatment heals the inflammation, and the cloudiness resolves unless permanent damage occurs. 

7. Corneal Dystrophy

Corneal dystrophy is when calcium and cholesterol deposit on the cornea, clouding it. 

Corneal dystrophy affects both eyes and develops in dogs of all breeds and ages. High calcium and cholesterol levels are known risk factors. 

The cloudiness in dogs with corneal dystrophy is aesthetic. Treatment is necessary if the deposits become painful or trigger ulcers. 

8. Eye Infections

Eye infections in dogs are inflammations caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. Infections affect one or multiple eye layers. 

The inflammation accompanying eye infections causes protein and inflammatory cell buildup. The protein and cellular accumulation gives the eye a cloudy appearance. 

Infection-associated eye cloudiness is transient in some cases and resolves once the infection clears up with the help of local and systemic antimicrobials. 

9. Eye Injury

Eye injuries include blunt force trauma, scratches, abrasions, or foreign bodies entering the eye cavity. Traumatic injuries to the eye cause damage, resulting in cloudiness. 

Eye injuries are painful and accompanied by other signs like increased tearing, redness, edema, or visible changes to the eye. 

The loss of transparency following eye injuries indicates significant damage. Quick treatment helps control eye damage, preserve vision, and eliminate cloudiness. 

10. Age-Related Changes

Common age-related changes causing hazy eyes in dogs include corneal endothelial dystrophy and senile iris atrophy. 

Corneal endothelial dystrophy (CED) occurs when the endothelial cells in the cornea are unable to maintain proper fluid balance, causing cloudiness and blindness. The issue is common among Chihuahuas and Boston Terriers over 12 years of age. 

Iris atrophy is the thinning of the iris that manifests with clouding of the otherwise pigmented tissue surrounding the pupil. Miniature Schnauzers, Poodles, and Chihuahuas are at high risk of developing iris atrophy.

Why do some Young Dogs have Sudden Cloudy Eyes?

Some young dogs have sudden cloudy eyes due to canine adenovirus type 1 (CA-1). Puppies get infected naturally or through vaccination with a live modified version of the virus. 

Canine adenovirus type 1 causes infectious canine hepatitis (ICH) and diffuse corneal clouding or so-called blue eyes as a side effect. The young dog cloudy eye suddenly manifests with a transient nature that resolves within one to two weeks. 

A CA-1-related “dog cloudy eye suddenly” situation occurs in all dog breeds. Afghan Hounds “appear to be particularly susceptible” among dog breeds, according to a study, “The 'Blue Eye' Phenomenon,” published in the Veterinary Record in 1983. 

Can CBD Oil Help Treat Glaucoma?

Yes, CBD oil can help treat glaucoma. CBD, or cannabidiol, helps manage inflammation and the pain of glaucoma while veterinary treatment to cure the glaucoma is pursued. 

CBD for dogs has potent anti-inflammatory and analgesic (anti-pain) properties. CBD reduces inflammation by blocking inflammatory triggers and blocks pain by interfering with pain-signaling pathways. 

CBD works naturally by interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Combining CBD oil for dogs is safe with mainstream medications and treatments. 

Are Cloudy Eyes in Dogs Temporary?

No, cloudy eyes in dogs are not temporary in most cases. Clouding of the cornea is permanent in dogs with age-related changes, nuclear sclerosis, and damage. 

Clouding resolves in dogs with adenovirus-related cloudy, blue eyes. Surgical removal of cataracts makes the clouding disappear. 

The durability of cloudy eyes in dogs, whether permanent or temporary, depends on the underlying cause and treatment options. 

Can Allergies Cause Cloudy Eyes in Dogs?

Yes, allergies can cause cloudy eyes in dogs. Direct eye contact with airborne allergens causes inflammation in sensitive dogs. The inflammation is known as allergic conjunctivitis. 

Pollen, dust, dust mites, feathers, dander, mildew, and mold spores trigger allergic conjunctivitis in dogs. 

Dogs with allergic conjunctivitis develop red, watery, and itchy eyes. The itchiness causes the dog to rub its eyes, damaging the retina. Clouding is a symptom of eye damage. 

Airborne sensitivities are a widespread kind of allergies in dogs. Keeping the eyes clean, regular flushing, and reducing allergen exposure help control the issue. 

Are there Home Remedies for Dog Cloudy Eyes?

No, there are no home remedies for cloudy eyes in dogs. Cloudiness is a sign of an underlying ophthalmic condition. Adverse eye conditions degenerate rapidly and require immediate vet care. 

Do not treat the dog’s cloudy eyes at home. Consult the veterinarian first and use home remedies to soothe the symptoms if the vet approves. Home remedies for cloudy eyes include cold compresses and cleaning the eye discharge. 

Attempting at-home remedies postpones the medical treatment, which is detrimental to the dog’s eye health and leads to vision loss. 

When should you Visit the Vet Regarding your Dog's Cloudy Eyes?

You should visit the vet regarding your dog’s cloudy eyes if the clouding occurs suddenly or is accompanied by other worrisome signs and symptoms. 

Gradual eye clouding developing over weeks or months is not an emergency. Sudden clouding requires immediate veterinary attention. 

Call the veterinarian if the clouding is accompanied by eye redness, tearing, discharge, visible enlargement of the eyeball, and ulcers. Cloudy eyes are often associated with systemic symptoms, such as reduced appetite, low energy levels, and lethargy. 

What are the Treatments for Cloudy Eyes in Dogs?

The treatments for cloudy eyes in dogs are listed below. 

  • Eye Drops and Ointments: Topical therapy is the golden standard for most causes of cloudy eyes in dogs. Options include artificial tears, anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, and anti-glaucoma drops and ointments. 
  • Systemic Medications: The frequently used systemic drug is oral antibiotics. Oral antibiotics are prescribed to dogs with cloudy eyes caused by severe eye infections like uveitis. 
  • Surgery: Surgery is the treatment of choice for dogs with cloudy eyes due to cataracts, glaucoma, certain forms of corneal ulcers, corneal dystrophy, and dry eye. Surgery is recommended when medical treatment fails to resolve the cloudy eyes.  
  • Eye Supplements: Supplements are combined with mainstream treatment to provide symptom relief, support healing, or improve overall eye health. Antioxidants, fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals are common ingredients in eye supplements.  

How to Prevent Cloudy Eyes in Dogs?

To prevent cloudy eyes in dogs, schedule regular veterinary checkups. The vet examination allows for diagnosing eye problems that progress into cloudy eyes. 

Specific causes of cloudy eyes are preventable. For example, manage the blood sugar levels in diabetic dogs to reduce the risk of cataracts. 

Ensure the dog wears an Elizabethan collar when suffering from other eye issues to prevent scratching and subsequent ulcers. 

Keep the dog up-to-date on its vaccinations and flea and tick preventives to avoid uveitis caused by viruses or tick-borne diseases. 

Can Cloudy Eyes Go Away without Treatment?

Yes, cloudy eyes can go away without treatment. Self-resolving eye clouding in dogs is very rare. 

Cloudy eyes due to adenovirus infection or vaccine is one of the few cases in which cloudiness disappears without treatment. 

Most causes of cloudy eyes in dogs require medical or surgical treatment. The clouding is either permanent or temporary, depending on the underlying cause.