In a previous blog post, I talked about how cats can develop eye issues that may vary from delicate to finish blindness. Try that first submit to be taught concerning the vital anatomical phrases and medical indicators that your cat might present with eye issues. In the present day, I’ll be discussing cat eye issues in additional element, together with cataracts in cats, glaucoma in cats, uveitis in cats, and extra.
In case your cat is displaying any indicators of ocular issues—like squinting, discharge from the attention, discoloration or cloudiness of the floor of the attention, extreme pink conjunctival tissue, or ocular ache—get to the veterinarian stat! We’ll have to do particular eye assessments mentioned on this blog post. One of the simplest ways for us to avoid wasting the imaginative and prescient in your cat’s eye is by aggressive remedy.
Conserving your cat’s eyes wholesome
Years in the past, I adopted an older tortoiseshell cat that had decreased imaginative and prescient in a single eye. She had a big corneal scar over about 25% of the middle a part of her eye. It regarded like an previous cat scratch that wasn’t handled aggressively with remedy, leading to partial blindness. Whereas my cat did nice in any other case, I can’t think about how annoying it was for her to look out of 1 eye with blurry, cloudy imaginative and prescient!
So, what do it’s essential find out about conserving your cat and their eyes wholesome? Know that there are a number of frequent cat eye issues or cat eye ailments. Once more, some could also be minor and end in irritation (like conjunctivitis), whereas others can lead to potential blindness or imaginative and prescient loss (like uveitis, glaucoma, cataracts, retinal detachment, and so on.)—even with remedy. Whereas this checklist isn’t exhaustive, it contains the most typical eye issues I see in cats.
Cataracts in cats
Cataracts in cats develop when the lens—deep within the middle of the attention—turns into cloudy to fully opaque, leading to decreased imaginative and prescient to finish blindness. Cats might develop cataracts in a single or each eyes. Some cat breeds like British Shorthairs, Birmans, and Himalayans can develop inherited cataracts. Cats can develop cataracts secondary to irritation (e.g., uveitis), an infection (e.g., viral, bacterial, fungal, protozoal, or hardly ever parasitic), trauma, metabolic issues (e.g., diabetes mellitus, hypertension), most cancers, and even most cancers remedy (e.g., radiation).
Delicate surgical procedure known as phacoemulsification is the best remedy to take away cataracts in cats. That is much less generally completed in cats as in comparison with canine or people. If surgical procedure isn’t carried out, long-term remedy with topical anti-inflammatory eye drops are essential to forestall secondary problems to the attention. The earlier we veterinarians diagnose metabolic issues (once more, like diabetes mellitus or hypertension), the extra aggressively we are able to deal with it to forestall secondary problems like blindness from cataracts.
Glaucoma in cats
Glaucoma in cats is a really painful eye situation the place the stress throughout the eye (known as the intraocular stress or IOP) is elevated. This can lead to extreme eye ache, and desires emergency remedy to forestall blindness! Whereas glaucoma is uncommon in cats as in comparison with canine, Siamese and Burmese cats are predisposed. Glaucoma is commonly attributable to underlying issues like tumors/most cancers within the eye, bleeding into the attention, injury to the lens, or secondary irritation of the attention (e.g., uveitis). That’s why we veterinarians deal with ANY eye issues aggressively, as we need to decrease the danger of your cat growing secondary glaucoma.
Indicators of glaucoma in cats embody the next:
- Dilated pupil
- A bluish cloudy look to the complete cornea
- Eye ache
- Bodily bulging of the eyeball
Remedy contains decreasing the IOP as quickly as doable with topical drugs known as carbonic anhydrase inhibitors (like dorzolamide) and beta-blocker medication (like timolol). In extreme instances, removing of the attention by surgical enucleation is critical to forestall persistent ache.
Uveitis in cats
Acute irritation within the entrance within the attention is named uveitis. Indicators of uveitis in cats embody:
- Ocular cloudiness
- Modifications in pupil dimension
- Tearing from the attention
Sadly, uveitis in cats requires an in depth—and costly—workup, and infrequently the causes have a poor prognosis. That’s as a result of there are a number of causes, together with infectious ailments (e.g., like FeLV or FIV, feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), Toxoplasma, Cryptococcus), most cancers, trauma, bacterial infections, and even immune issues. Remedy is dependent upon what the underlying trigger is. It typically contains topical or oral antibiotics, steroids, and cautious monitoring of your cat’s intraocular stress. Intensive blood work together with titers for infectious ailments are essential.
Corneal ailments: Corneal ulcers in cats & keratitis in cats
Subsequent on my checklist of frequent eye issues in cats? Issues on the floor of the attention, or the cornea. In case your cat goes exterior and brawls with different cats, beware. One thing as fast as a cat nail to the cornea can lead to extreme damage and even perforation of the attention, inflicting scarring and decreased imaginative and prescient. Typically bugs, filth, or plant materials may end in corneal ulcers in cats. Even a tear deficiency or nerve drawback (whereas rarer in cats) may cause damage to the cornea.
Indicators of corneal issues embody:
- Being light-sensitive
- Making an attempt to paw on the eye
- Extreme tearing
- Irregular discharge from the attention.
Discoloration of the cornea can happen additionally, which may be seen with a number of several types of ocular issues (starting from a scratch to glaucoma), so when doubtful, get to a veterinarian instantly! We’ll have to stain the eyes (with an orange-tinged fluorescein stain) to see if the floor of the cornea is compromised. Remedy typically features a funnel hat (to forestall additional damage to the attention), topical eye antibiotics (with NO steroids in it, which may make the damage worse), ache remedy, atropine ointment (not drops please, because it makes your cat drool), and frequent rechecks by your veterinarian (to ensure it’s therapeutic!).
Hardly ever, different causes for corneal eye issues in cats embody a corneal sequestrum. This can be a useless, darkish pigmented piece of corneal tissue. This must be eliminated by sometimes two surgical procedures (a keratectomy to take away the sequestrum and a conjunctival graft to guard the cornea). Corneal sequestrums happen extra in Persian and Himalayan cats.
Conjunctivitis is a flowery, lengthy phrase which suggests irritation of the conjunctiva—the skinny sheet of whitish/pink-tinged tissue surrounding the complete globe. This is likely one of the most typical eye issues I see with cats coming into the veterinary ER. Infections or irritants may cause swelling and redness to the mucous membranes of your cat’s eyes, leading to… nicely, pink eye! This isn’t sometimes contagious to you, however it may be very contagious to different cats. I focus on conjunctivitis in cats at length in this post.
Indicators of conjunctivitis in cats embody squinting, extreme pinkness/swelling of the tissue, and thick, sticky eye discharge. Viruses (e.g., herpesvirus, calicivirus) from upper respiratory infections (URIs), together with bacterial causes, are sometimes the trigger however even irritants like cigarette smoke, pollen, and allergic reactions may cause it. As soon as we’ve dominated out damage to the cornea (like a corneal scratch or ulcer), we sometimes deal with this with a topical ophthalmic antimicrobial ointment comparable to terramycin or erythromycin and even anti-inflammatory medication. In extreme instances, we might use antiviral drugs (each topically and orally) if the conjunctivitis doesn’t enhance on antibiotics. I see conjunctivitis extra in smoosh-faced cat breeds like Persians and Himalayans.
Keratitis in cats means corneal irritation. This is usually a results of trauma, an infection (e.g., URI viruses), or different ocular situations. Indicators embody discharge from the attention, tearing, squinting, eye ache, and redness. High it off with extra irritation and you’ve got keratoconjunctivitis, which now impacts two components of the attention (the clear cornea and the conjunctiva). Eosinophilic keratoconjunctivitis is recognized with corneal cytology—when we’ve to numb your cat’s eye, take a pattern with a sterile cotton swab, and take a look at the cells below a microscope. Remedy may be irritating, as cats sometimes want long-term eye drops for this illness. When doubtful, this one needs to be managed with the assistance of a veterinary ophthalmologist to forestall imaginative and prescient loss.
Eyelid abnormalities (e.g., entropion, eyelid mass)
Eyelid issues are extra frequent in canine, and fewer so in cats. But when your cat has “saggy” eyelids, an eyelid tuck could also be essential. In case your cat was recognized with entropion, that signifies that the eyelids roll inward, and the tiny eyelashes slowly scrape and irritate the floor of the attention. This can lead to corneal scarring and damage and desires immediate surgical remedy. Much less generally, eyelid plenty (each benign and malignant) may develop on the eyelids, leading to irritation or corneal ulcers in cats. These ought to ideally be surgically eliminated and biopsied by a board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist.
In case your cat’s eye bulges or appears to recess again, it normally signifies a big medical drawback. With bulging, it’s typically attributable to a tumor or an infection rising behind the eyeball, pushing it ahead. If the attention is sunken, generally that’s from dehydration or medical issues (together with diabetes, hyperthyroidism, kidney illness, and most cancers) that trigger weight reduction.
Iris abnormalities (e.g., melanosis, melanoma)
For those who discover that your cat’s iris turns into abnormally pigmented or “freckled,” it could possibly be iris melanosis, which is benign. Nevertheless, this could progress to a malignant most cancers known as melanoma. When doubtful, have it monitored rigorously, as removing of the attention is usually essential to forestall most cancers from spreading to the remainder of the physique.
Retinal injury (e.g., retinal detachment)
That is one in every of my most hated eye issues as a veterinarian, because it ends in acute everlasting blindness. Indicators of retinal issues embody acute blindness, dilated pupils, blood-appearance within the eye, or a white-colored pupil. Retinal damage sometimes is a results of systemic physique issues like hypertension in geriatric cats—particularly cats with persistent kidney failure, hyperthyroidism, and coronary heart illness. The blood stress will get so excessive (with regular being 120 mm Hg) that it causes the fragile cell layer of the again of the attention to “blow off” from hypertension (e.g., systolic blood stress > 180-200 mm Hg). Typically immediate veterinary care can restore some imaginative and prescient. More often than not, it ends in everlasting blindness. Sure infections or cancers may trigger issues with the retina.
The prognosis for eye issues in cats is superb to poor, relying on what the prognosis is and what the response to remedy is. As quickly as you discover any abnormality to your cat’s eye, get to a veterinarian immediately. That means we are able to diagnose and deal with it instantly earlier than secondary problems (like glaucoma or cataracts) happen. The prognosis is usually higher the earlier we diagnose it. And there’s the next probability of retaining imaginative and prescient!
Remember that it’s best to by no means use drugs from a earlier pet within the eye with out consulting a veterinarian. That’s as a result of sure varieties containing steroids or different substances can really worsen the issue or trigger uncommon anaphylactic reactions.
Whereas your cat might have 9 lives, they solely have two eyes! We need to hold them as wholesome as doable!
Cowl photograph by Andrii Ganzevych on Unsplash