Eye Problems in Cats

When you noticed that your cat’s eyes, which are generally clear and brilliant, may become a little sticky and watery in any diseased condition. In that situation, some cats may be pawing at their eyes, while others may be rubbing their faces against the sofa or on the carpet.  Depending on the circumstances, eye discharge in cats could be caused by anything from a mild cold to a more severe illness.

Numerous conditions can have a negative impact on a cat’s vision. If you notice anything unusual about your cat’s eyes, you must take her to the veterinarian as soon as possible. Some issues are simple to cure, but they may become more complex, and the kitty’s vision may be impaired as the situation worsens.

It can be mainly distressing for a cat owner when your beloved feline’s eyes begin to cloud over and become less clear than they were previously. Cloudy eyes, or eyes that become watery with discharge, or even an increase in blinking or squinting can indicate that your cat is suffering from an eye infection—or something far worse—and needs to be seen by a veterinarian.

Listed below are the most frequent cat eye disorders, as well as what you should do if your kitty exhibits any of the signs and symptoms.

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Signs that Your Cat May be Suffering from Eye Problems

Several signs indicate eye problems in cats, including watery eyes, excessive blinking, squinting, and pawing at their eyeballs. Cats also have an additional eyelid, known as the nictitating membrane, which protects their vision. If this extra eyelid is visible, then it is highly likely that something is wrong.

It would help if you did the following:

  1. Examine the eye to see if you can identify the source of the problem. The best method to examine the eye is to use a single light source, such as a flashlight, in a dark environment, preferably with no other light sources present. You can stop the cat from panicking by placing a pillowcase around her neck and pinning it around her neck to keep her restrained. Remember that if your pet is alarmed, her eyes will dilate, making it impossible for you to make an accurate assessment of her condition.
  2. Make a comparison between one eye and the other. Examine them to determine if they are the same shape, color, and size. Check to see if they are protruding forward or receding backward. Some people experience eye discharge, while others report that their vision is hazy, cloudy, or smoky. Cover one eye with your finger and touch the other several times to check your vision. If the cat has vision, she will blink when your finger comes close enough to touch her.
  3. Clear discharge: When there is clear discharge without any redness or soreness, it indicates an issue with the tear drainage system. You should be aware of any discharge if it suggests the likelihood of corneal or inner eye involvement. A pink eye which is also known as conjunctivitis is characterized by a thick, sticky mucus discharge and redness and inflammation.
  4. Pain: Squinting, tearing, tenderness to touch, and avoiding bright light are all signs of pain in the eyes. In response to pain, the nictitating membrane may emerge from the skin. Injuries to the cornea and abnormalities of the inner eye are the most common causes of painful eyes.
  5. Film Over the Eye: A protruded nictitating membrane is a whitish or opaque film that moves out over the eye’s surface and is accompanied by tears.
  6. Cloudiness: There is cloudiness in the eye, which signals that there is an inner eye disease. Keratitis, glaucoma, and cataracts are among conditions that can result in a hazy cornea.
  7. Hard or soft eye: Changes in eye pressure are caused by illnesses of the inner eye, which are hard or soft. The pupil can become fixed and cease to respond to light. A hard look indicates glaucoma with dilation of the pupil. An eye that feels mushy with a narrow pupil implies inflammation of the internal structure of the eye.
  8. Lid Irritation: These are conditions that produce swelling, crusting, itching, or hair loss on the upper and lower eyelids, as well as other symptoms.
  9. Bulging or Sunken Eye: These are strange shapes and eye locations present in some people.
  10. Abnormal movements: Eyes that focus in multiple directions or jolt back and forth are examples of abnormal movements.
  11. Cross-eye gaze: The crossing of the eyes is typical among Siamese cats and is often viewed as natural; however, other versions are caused by muscle paralysis and should be treated as such.

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What Causes Eye Discharge?

The below are the most common causes of cat abnormal eye discharge:

  • Feline upper respiratory infections

Cats are susceptible to various infectious agents, including viruses such as feline calicivirus, a contagious respiratory disease such as pneumonitis or rhinotracheitis (herpesvirus), bacteria, and protozoa, which can cause ocular discharge.

When it comes to kittens and cats, infections are frequently the most severe among those who have immune-compromising underlying illnesses. Symptoms might be minor or severe and may include a sticky, pus-like discharge from the eyes, which can be pretty dangerous.

Herpesvirus, among other symptoms of an upper respiratory infection, such as sneezing, is frequently associated with acute conjunctivitis. Kittens may have so much discharge from their eyes that their eyelids become “glued” shut. Some kittens that suffer from severe cases may have lifelong eye problems as a result of their condition.

  • Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis (pink eye) is a condition in which the conjunctiva becomes inflamed. Cat conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the light pink lining that surrounds the cat’s eyes. It can cause one or both of your cat’s eyes to seem red and swollen, to be light-sensitive, and to produce precise, watery, or thick mucus from their eyes. Fever, diarrhea, and difficulty breathing can all be signs of potentially fatal feline infectious peritonitis; however, this isn’t something that happens very often.

It can be caused by many known factors, including upper respiratory infections, fungal, viral, or bacterium infections, environmental irritants such as cleansers and other home chemicals, or even a physical injury to the eye.

A veterinarian’s examination of the eyes is essential for accurately diagnosing the disease. Antibiotics may be prescribed by your veterinarian for your cat’s eye infection, as well as other eye drops or ointment to treat inflammations. If conjunctivitis recurs, veterinarians advise against reusing previously used eye drops or other medications on the affected eye.

  • Disorders of the Cornea

The cornea of a cat, which is the dome-shaped covering the front of the eye, can become irritated, damaged, or ulcerated, depending on the cause. As a result, cloudiness, frequent blinking, irritation, and increased tear production may be experienced by the patient.

Scratched eyes can occur due to a foreign object in the eye, a battle with another cat, or rubbing their eye too violently due to another medical problem.

  • Tearing eyes

Tearing eyes that are watery (epiphora). Blocked tear ducts, an excessive amount of tears produced, allergies, viral conjunctivitis, and other factors can all contribute to your cat’s excessive tearing.

  • Uveitis

A painful condition that cats suffer from may rub at their eyes, squint, and present with a red eye or eyes. The internal pressure of the eye is too low to function correctly.

Uveitis in cats can be caused by various factors, including trauma to the eye, infections (particularly FeLV, FIP, FIV, and toxoplasmosis), diabetes and other metabolic problems, high blood pressure, and environmental pollutants.

  • Cataracts

Cataracts are defined as opacities that develop in the lens of the eye. This can substantially impact the cat’s ability to see and eventually become blind in one eye.

Cataracts are less common in cats, although they are nonetheless possible. Diabetes, inflammation, cancer, radiation exposure, and trauma to the eye are all potential causes of glaucoma.

  • Glaucoma

In glaucoma, there is an increase in pressure within the eye. It causes discomfort and, in the long run, blindness.

Glaucoma in cats can be caused by a deformity of the eyeball that prevents efficient drainage of the fluid contained within it, but this is an uncommon occurrence. It is most frequent in Siamese and Burmese cats but can occur in any cat.

Glaucoma can also develop due to another eye problem, such as a tumor or a traumatic injury.

Glaucoma can cause the eye to appear to be bulging, which is a common symptom. It can also cause redness and wateriness in the eyes and the cat rubbing at the affected eye.

Glaucoma is considered an emergency since there is very little time to treat the eye and perhaps save sight if it is diagnosed early. As a result, whenever your cat’s eye doesn’t appear to be functioning correctly, you should seek medical attention immediately.

  • Melanoma

Melanoma is almost like cancer that develops in the melanocytes, pigment-producing cells on the skin’s surface. Melanoma can develop in the eye because melanocytes in the iris and behind the retina can arise in the eye.

A diffuse dark region seen in the eye in cats with ocular melanoma (melanoma of the eye) might manifest as a raised, dark patch around the periphery of the eye in cats with ocular melanoma. Uveitis or glaucoma, as well as pain in the eye, can be caused by melanoma.

  • Dry eye

Dry eye is characterized by a prolonged absence of tear production that can result in an irritated cornea, red eyes, and, if left untreated, blindness. It is possible to have a yellow, sticky discharge from the eyes if the watery portion of tears is lacking.

  • Blepharitis (Inflammation of the eyelids)

Blepharitis, the medical term for “inflammation of a cat’s eyelids,” is usually caused by entropion, which occurs when an eyelid folds inward and rubs against the eyeball. Some cats, particularly those with flat faces and prominent skin folds, are more susceptible to this ailment than others. Those with flat faces and prominent skin folds are more susceptible (Persian or Himalayan breeds). Besides infections and congenital disabilities, other typical causes that your veterinarian would need to rule out include allergic responses, tumors affecting the eye, and inflammatory illnesses, among others. Blepharitis in cats can be treated with various methods ranging from warm compresses and eye drops to immunosuppressive medicines and even surgery. The prognosis for your cat is entirely dependent on the underlying problem that is irritating the eyelid. However, it is usually treatable once the underlying condition is addressed.

  • Exophthalmos

Exophthalmos is a contagious infection that affects the eyes. When the eyeball protrudes or bulges from the orbit of the eye, this is referred to as exophthalmos (protruding eyeball). Almost always, a tumor-forming behind the eyeball is the source of this illness. Along with eye swelling, the most common symptoms of exophthalmos are fever along with pus in or around the eye, lethargy (inability to close the eye), corneal irritation (discharge), and pain when opening the mouth.

If a cat has exophthalmos, the treatment will be determined by the underlying cause of the problem. For malignant masses, surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy are frequently recommended in addition to other therapies.

  • Enophthalmos

Exophthalmos is a sickness in which the eyeball protrudes from the skull, whereas enophthalmos is a disease in which the eyeball recedes into the skull. The most known cause is that the eyeball has lost some volume, causing it to contract. Breeds with long, thin heads are at the greatest danger of contracting this illness.

The underlying cause of the condition determines the treatment for enophthalmos. For example, if the cause is dehydration, intravenous infusion may be beneficial; but, if the cause is a malignant mass, surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy will likely be the most effective treatments.

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Identifying and Diagnosing Feline Eye Disorders

When you visit your cat to the veterinarian because you suspect an eye problem, the doctor will first ask you about the issue and then look over your cat’s chart to make sure they know any concurrent medical ailments your cat may be experiencing.

Your vet-doc will then perform a thorough physical examination, including taking a temperature, feeling lymph nodes, and peering into the eyes using an ophthalmoscope.

Following that, the doctor may wish to perform some more specialized tests to narrow down the scope of the problem. Some of them may include the following:

  • Check blood pressure
  • A blood test
  • Staining the pupil of the eye
  • Examining the pressure in the eye

Treatments for Eye Discharge

Because many illnesses can produce ocular discharge in cats, you should consult your veterinarian before attempting any eye discharge remedies/treatment on your feline companion.

Depending on what your veterinarian discovers, treatment for cat eye discharge may include one or more of the following:

  • Feline upper respiratory infection (FUR-infection): Specific drugs include eye medicines, antibiotics, decongestants, and fluids, amongst other options.
  • Conjunctivitis (inflammation of the conjunctiva): It can be treated with a steroid ointment or drops. If a bacterial infection causes the infection, antibiotic ointments may be applied to the affected area.
  • Disorders of the cornea: Treatment may involve keeping the kitty’s eyes clean, antibacterial eye ointment or eye drops, drops that promote healing, removing loose corneal tissue, cauterization, or surgery.
  • Tearing or watery eyes: Under general anesthesia, your veterinarian may choose to flush your cat’s blocked tear duct with ordinary water or saline solution. If you have an infection in your eyes, antibiotic eye ointment or drops may be necessary.
  • Uveitis: The most appropriate treatment for your cat’s uveitis is determined by the underlying cause, which can be challenging to decide on. To control inflammation and pain, eye drops or ointment may be used.
  • Feline calicivirus: Symptom control, medications for secondary infections, and supportive care may all be part of the treatment plan.
  • Dryness of the eyes: Eye drops or ointments, immune-suppressing medications, antibiotics, or artificial tears are all options for treating dry eyes.

When Should You Visit a Veterinarian?

They are as delicate as they are gorgeous, and they belong to your cat. Minor difficulties can swiftly escalate into life-threatening situations. As soon as you notice your cat’s eye discharge symptoms have not resolved within 24 hours, or if your cat appears to be squinting, consult your veterinarian immediately.

It is not recommended to use drugs on your cat’s eyes if you have any leftover from a previous eye condition. Different eye problems necessitate various medications, and utilizing the incorrect medication can result in catastrophic harm.

Tips to Keep Your Cat’s Eyes Healthy at Home

By keeping up with yearly vaccines, preventing overcrowding, and regularly inspecting your cat’s eyes, you can help prevent eye problems in your cat. Look for signs of redness, cloudiness, change in color or form, discharge, or sensitivity to light.

Prepare yourself with a bag of cotton balls and the following simple instructions to properly remove your cat’s eye discharge and make them more comfortable. At the same time, you wait for their veterinarian appointment:

  • Soak a cotton ball in water for a few minutes. Wipe away the discharge from the corner of the eye outward, always starting at the corner of the eye. Each eye should be covered with a fresh cotton ball.
  • Avoid using any over-the-counter drops or washes unless your veterinarian has prescribed them.

Proper treatment is essential to your cat’s health and well-being. It is always good to consult with a veterinarian to ensure that the kitty receives the appropriate care and attention.

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