Among the most striking features on a cat are its eyes. Healthy cats should have eyes that are clear and bright. Sometimes, cats’ eyes may become runny, weepy and a crust can form. This is what to do and what can happen.
If this kind of crust is allowed to remain, it can block the tear ducts causing them to become infected. This is why it’s important to have your cat’s eyes cleaned properly to help keep them healthy and infection-free.
Although cats are usually very fastidious about their personal grooming, they may need a little help around the eyes. At the Otto & Alice Mobile Grooming Studio we advise that it’s a good idea between professional grooms – maybe once every couple of days – to dampen a soft wash cloth with room-temperature distilled water and gently bathe your cat’s eyes.There are also some great cleaning products available.
This is particularly helpful when breeds are prone to “tear staining”, like Persians, when it may be wise to be done daily to help reduce the problem.
When carers from Cats, Dogs & Peace of Mind visit the many cats that we do every year we are always acutely aware how important it is to keep our own eyes open for anything untoward when it comes to a cat’s health.
Cats with optical complaints are too common, but these naturally independent animals tend to hide their afflictions, so it’s not always obvious when a cat is suffering. Because eye issues aren’t as prevalent in cats as in dogs and horses, they are often unnoticed until quite advanced symptoms emerge.
For example, inflammation isn’t so obvious in cats; and corneal disease and damage are not often visibly manifest.
The first signs that people notice when a cat has an eye complaint are when the animal squints or creates tears excessively. When a cornea is damaged or becomes ulcerated, the cat will close its eye as much as possible to encourage lubrication.
There are of course some optical problems that are glaringly obvious, but others are much harder to spot. Symptoms include crying and discharge from the eye, cloudiness, different pupil sizes, and light sensitivity.
When it’s suspected something wrong with a cat’s vision or eye health, the vet should examine the animal at the earlier opportunity. Delayed diagnosis can seriously jeopardise a cat’s sight, while prompt treatment can delay or even prevent blindness. Primary eye conditions are more often than not seen in association with underlying systemic illnesses.
Among the most common eye problems in cats are conjunctivitis, cataracts and corneal ulceration.
Conjunctivitis is sometimes called “pink eye”. It is commonly caused by infectious organisms that are already present in the cat’s body. The most prevalent are the herpes virus (FHV-1) and Feline Chlamydia, which can be transmitted between cats either through direct contact or via feeding equipment and the environment being contaminated.
It is possible for a cat to suffer pain but it’s more common for them to be uncomfortable, with excessive irritation and itching and. As a result of the condition being symptomatic of some more serious underlying problem, it’s crucial for the cat to be examined as soon as possible after symptoms reveal themselves.
What characterises conjunctivitis is squinting and watery discharge. These discharges can be clear, yellow, green or dark red. Additional symptoms may include swelling of the eye tissue and redness, increased blinking, a fluid build up in the eye, and signs of upper respiratory infection.
Beware because sometimes, allergens like dust, mould or grasses can trigger responses that are easily mistaken for conjunctivitis. Eye traumas are also responsible for prompting inflammation of the conjunctiva.
Accurately diagnosing the problem can be achieved with a green dye called flourescein. This is applied to affected eyes and in cases where something is wrong with the cornea, for instance ulceration, this flourescein turns bright green when magnified.
When it comes to treating the problem, as a number of cases are the result of a virus (FHV-1), topical antibiotics aren’t always an effective course of treatment. Anti-inflammatories can be prescribed to reduce optical swelling, or, if the cause of the conjunctivitis isn’t infectious, steroidal eye drops may be used. To view our wide range of eye gels and drops, click here.
Cataracts are not very common in cats, but they are found in some geriatric animals. Eye inflammation or Uveitis is a leading cause of the development of cataracts and usually indicates an underlying illness.
At first, the eyes appear opaque or clouded and light transmitted to the retina will be impeded. Sometimes, cataracts are connected to the natural ageing process and can be ignored except in cases where they start impairing vision.
Cataracts indicate progressive eye degeneration, which is to be expected in older cats. If vision is impaired, surgery would be necessary to correct problems.
Much more common problem in cats is corneal ulceration, which can cause extreme pain. A glassy outer layer of the eye, the cornea is what admits light. It is made up of many layers. These include the stroma, the epithelium, and Descemet’s membrane.
Eyes can quickly become ulcerated if the integrity of the layers is compromised. This may happen due to a blunt or penetrating trauma, some sort of infection or disease, or a foreign body entering the eye.
In general, an affected cat will most likely have been wounded by either crossing paths with another cat when its eye is swiped with a sharp claw, or, by coming into contact with a low-hanging branch that pokes directly in the eye.
Corneal ulcers are so painful cats will either keep their eye closed or constantly paw at it. Additional symptoms may include redness and swelling, squinting and excessive tears and discharges. There may also be a film or clouding across the eye.
Diagnosing corneal ulcers, the fluorescein dye can be used to detect damage to the eye’s integrity. If the epithelium stains, the cornea is most likely damaged.
Before staining eyes, vets may check for infection. This involves swabbing the ulcer. If laboratory results are returned positive for infection, antibiotics will no doubt be prescribed. If not, medicated eye drops may be sufficient to stop any infection and soothe the eye.
Superficial ulcers and corneal abrasions should not take long to clear up following diagnosis. However, deeper ulcers are much more tricky to treat. The cornea must be protected while the ulcer heals in severe cases that threaten the eye. Sometimes the eye needs to be surgically sealed for a short period while the cornea heals.