It may seem strange to imagine your cat or dog wearing contact lenses, but it’s not uncommon for vets to use therapeutic soft contact lenses on animals including, cats, dogs and horses…You may even remember reading in the news about a very unusual case in the USA where professionals were considering making gigantic contact lenses for C'sar an elephant at North Carolina Zoo, suffering with poor vision.
Unlike humans, contact lenses for pets are often used for a different purpose; instead vets apply them to animals that have damaged their corneas, this serves two functions – it allows the eye to heal by protecting it like a bandage against discomfort caused by the movement of the eyelids and avoids the owner having to pay out for a complex surgery.
Similar to colour contact lenses for humans, pet owners can also use cosmetic tinted lenses on their dogs to hide eye damage.
Ernest - A cat who wears lenses for better sight
Contact lenses for cats made the news a while ago when the Daily Mail reported on Ernest, a 15 year old cat that was fitted with contact lenses to correct his vision. Ernest was finding life difficult living with an entropion, a medical condition caused when the eyelid folds in toward the eye, impairing sight and causing discomfort. Due to his age it would have been a risk to allow him to undergo a procedure to fix the entropion, instead vets opted to fit him with contact lenses.
His owners at the Godshill RSPCA rescue centre in the Isle of Wight were pleased with the results. Paula Sadler, Centre Manager said: “'Before Earnest was given the contact lenses he was quite squinty and had trouble seeing where he was going. Now his eyes have opened up and he has a new lease of life.”
Pets that wear lenses for cataracts
Just like humans, animals can develop a cataract. This is an eye disease that obstructs light from passing through to the retina causing vision to deteriorate, often leading to blindness. The only effective treatment for cataracts is a surgical operation where the cloudy lens is removed and replaced with a synthetic clear lens that allows the person to see. As pets are often considered one of the family it is not surprising that many vets now carry out this same operation on our pets to enable them to see again.
Recently headlines were made when a Lanner Falcon named Banner was the first falcon ever to undergo successful cataract surgery at Fisherville Animal Hospital in Concord in America.
Now you know contact lenses can be used on animals, you won’t be as surprised to learn that glasses are popular too! An American company, called “Doggles” has developed protective eye wear for dogs to ensure their eyes receive 100% UV protection when they're out in the sun. Rather than resembling human shades, they look more like a pair of tinted goggles; owners can even customise the colour of their pet’s sunglasses to fit their style.