Lenticular Sclerosis in Cats

Lenticular Sclerosis in Cats

What is lenticular sclerosis?


Lenticular sclerosis or nuclear sclerosis is the medical term for a bluish transparent "haze" that develops in the lens of the eye in middle-aged to senior cats.

"Vision does not appear to be significantly affected in cats diagnosed with lenticular sclerosis."

This is considered a normal change in the lens associated with aging, and is observed as a cloudiness or bluish discoloration on the pupil. Vision does not appear to be significantly affected in cats diagnosed with lenticular sclerosis. This condition is not the same as cataracts. Cataracts are white and opaque and represent a change in the ability of light to penetrate to the retina. Cataracts cause diminished vision. Cataracts and lenticular sclerosis are two of the most common eye problems seen in cats over the age of 9.  

Lenticular sclerosis typically occurs bilaterally (in both eyes) and symmetrically in cats. The slowly progressive changes that result in nuclear sclerosis begin at about 8 years of age, and begin to be observable in cats over 9 years of age. Clinically, nuclear sclerosis appears as an evenly gray, rounded opacity in the center of the lens. It is most easily observed when the pupil is dilated. The opacity is often more dramatic when viewed from the side rather than from the front. When the eye is examined with an opthalmoscope, the retina and fundus (back of the eye) can still be seen through the sclerotic lens.

What causes lenticular sclerosis?

While the exact mechanism is poorly understood, it appears that the lens gradually becomes harder with age. Lens fibers are produced throughout life, but the lens does not become bigger. It is believed that, as the central lens is compressed by new fibers deposited on the outer "rings" of the lens, the compression leads to hardening and lens opacification.

Will my cat get cataracts?

Many cats do develop senile cataracts after having lenticular sclerosis. While the two seem related, there does not appear to be a causal relationship. This means that not all pets with lenticular sclerosis will develop cataracts. Senile cataracts form when the aging lens fibers degenerate. It is important to note that senile cataracts develop in many older pets so the chances of your pet developing lenticular sclerosis and/or a cataract is high.

How is lenticular sclerosis treated?

There is no specific treatment for lenticular sclerosis, nor is treatment necessary. Pets diagnosed with lenticular sclerosis should be evaluated regularly to monitor for the development of cataracts. If a cataract develops, it can be surgically corrected, and this procedure should be pursued early in the course of the disease for best results.


This client information sheet is based on material written by: Ernest Ward, DVM
© Copyright 2009 Lifelearn Inc. Used and/or modified with permission under license.