Ask a vet online- “My 9 year old GSD has a black disk like cataract in one eye. Can it be removed safely. Would this be expensive to remove? Is this usually done by my vet or a specialist eye vet?”

Question from David Keown
My 9 year old GSD has a black disk like cataract in one eye. Can it be removed safely and what’s the prognosis for a good recovery. Would this be expensive to remove? Is this usually done by my vet or a specialist eye vet? Thanks.

Answer from Shanika Williams MRCVS online vet

Hi David, thank you for your question about the black disc in your GSD’s eye (German shepherd dog).

Firstly I will describe what a cataract is; I do not think that your dog has a cataract but an iris cyst.

A cataract is an area of discolouration in the lens of the eye, the lens sits in the middle of the eye and is usually colourless and clear, it sits just behind the iris (coloured part of the eye). Usually a cataract can only be seen without the use of specialist equipment if it is very large or the lens has dropped out of its correct position and has fallen into the front chamber of the eye.

So what is the black disc?


The black disc that you are describing in your GSD’s eye is most likely to be an iris cyst. Iris cysts are fluid filled black discs of varying size that bud off from another part of the eye. They vary in size (usually few millimetres in diameter) and can move around or are fixed in position; they are usually found at the front bottom half of the eye. I have personal experience of this condition as our family GSD had several mobile iris cysts.

Does my pet need any treatment?


Iris cysts rarely cause a problem to your pet; they are not painful and rarely have any impact of your pet’s vision so we tend not to treat them. It is however important to distinguish an iris cyst from an iris melanoma (benign cancerous growth). Iris melanoma is a condition where there is a slow growing area of black visible within the front chamber of your pet’s eye. Iris melanoma can lead to cataracts, glaucoma (increased pressure in your pet’s eye) and pain. If iris melanoma is suspected then it might be advised that your pet’s eye is removed. Most pets cope incredibly well after removal of an eye, it is considered to be better not to have an eye than to have one that is diseased and causing a lot of pain.

So I would advise that your dog is examined by your own vet and then if required a veterinary ophthalmologist (eye specialist), if it is an iris cyst then your pets prognosis is excellent. If however iris melanoma is suspected then after the correct treatment which may involve eye removal then again the prognosis is good. I hope that this answer has helped you and your dog.

Shanika Winters MRCVS (online vet)

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6 thoughts on “Ask a vet online- “My 9 year old GSD has a black disk like cataract in one eye. Can it be removed safely. Would this be expensive to remove? Is this usually done by my vet or a specialist eye vet?”

  1. I couldn’t agree more with Shanika.
    Dogs should be examined regularly to prevent any type of illness.

    There are many symptoms to different kinds of issues, worms in dogs is one of the deadliest if not treated in time.

    If you dog suffers starts suffering from different symptoms it may become weak and further develop more devestating disease.

  2. I couldn’t agree more with Shanika.
    Dogs should be examined regularly to prevent any type of illness.

    There are many symptoms to different kinds of issues, worms in dogs is one of the deadliest if not treated in time.

    If you dog suffers starts suffering from different symptoms it may become weak and further develop more devestating disease.

  3. On this issue I am looking for a place to post on this site.

    I have a question.

    Our dog was scratching at his eye for about a week. The vet told us it was probably allergies. We gave him benadryl as suggested by the vet. A week later his eye was swollen, he was turning his head to the side, he was whining like he was in pain. We took him to the vet they did a full diagnostic workup. checked his ears. The vet said his ears seemed normal,there was a bit of low pressure in his eye. His blood work was all normal. She gave us eye drops for the eye. Now the symptoms are still present. He does not seem to have energy. He doesn’t want to eat or drink. He is voiding normally. No vomiting or diarrhea.

    He is a 2 year old heeler mix. He was a rescue and almost died from a severe infestation of internal parasites. He gets his vaccinations regularly. He gets 2 comprehensive workups a year. He gets his teeth brushed everyday sometimes twice a day. Once we got home over the scare with the internal parasites he has been given a clean bill of health at all his checkups.

    I don’t know what else to ask the vet about. Some help would be appreciated.

  4. On this issue I am looking for a place to post on this site.

    I have a question.

    Our dog was scratching at his eye for about a week. The vet told us it was probably allergies. We gave him benadryl as suggested by the vet. A week later his eye was swollen, he was turning his head to the side, he was whining like he was in pain. We took him to the vet they did a full diagnostic workup. checked his ears. The vet said his ears seemed normal,there was a bit of low pressure in his eye. His blood work was all normal. She gave us eye drops for the eye. Now the symptoms are still present. He does not seem to have energy. He doesn’t want to eat or drink. He is voiding normally. No vomiting or diarrhea.

    He is a 2 year old heeler mix. He was a rescue and almost died from a severe infestation of internal parasites. He gets his vaccinations regularly. He gets 2 comprehensive workups a year. He gets his teeth brushed everyday sometimes twice a day. Once we got home over the scare with the internal parasites he has been given a clean bill of health at all his checkups.

    I don’t know what else to ask the vet about. Some help would be appreciated.

  5. Update, The vet says she sees a cloudy spot on his retina. He still has problem seeing out of that eye. Still yelping in pain. She thought maybe Progressive Retinal Atrophy. But from what I read that affects both eyes at same time and is not painful. Still giving eye drops per Vets orders.

  6. Update, The vet says she sees a cloudy spot on his retina. He still has problem seeing out of that eye. Still yelping in pain. She thought maybe Progressive Retinal Atrophy. But from what I read that affects both eyes at same time and is not painful. Still giving eye drops per Vets orders.

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