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Cats experience issues with their eyes, much like pet parents do. However, sudden changes in a cat’s vision or physical symptoms like redness or eye-watering can cause concern. Pet parents can make better decisions on how to help their cat when they understand common feline eye conditions, symptoms, and next steps.
Like humans, cats can get various eye conditions. Some can be temporary, minor issues, while others are more severe or permanent.
Cataracts. Cataracts are when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy or opaque. This condition can affect one or both eyes, and it can cause partial or complete blindness.
Glaucoma. Glaucoma is when the fluid in the eye doesn’t drain properly and builds up. This buildup of fluid leads to pressure on the optic nerve, affecting vision and often leading to blindness.
Conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis is the most common feline eye condition. It is an inflammation of the conjunctiva membrane, most often by a viral or bacterial infection.
Uveitis. Uveitis is a serious, chronic condition resulting in inflammation of the inner eye. Viral infections are the most common cause of uveitis, often causing blindness.
Respiratory infections. Often viral or bacterial, upper respiratory infections can cause weeping or redness in the eyes. They can also lead to eye infections.
Corneal ulcer. A corneal ulcer is a painful wound on the cornea of the eye. It can result from scratches during a fight, dirt or sand caught under the eyelid, exposure to chemicals, or an infection.
Retinal detachment. Retinal detachment is a serious condition that leads to blindness. In this condition, the retina slowly detaches from the surrounding tissue because of high blood pressure, kidney disease, or another chronic issue.
Tumors. Tumors may be benign or malignant, and they can develop in or around the eye.
Eyelid abnormalities, such as entropion or ectropion. Eyelids can turn inward or outward, resulting in chronic irritation or infection from contaminants.
Pet parents should speak with a vet if they see any of the following signs and symptoms of eye problems in cats:
Redness or swelling
Watery or weeping eyes
Thick or colored eye discharge
Blood in the eye
Changes in pupil size or shape
Visible third eyelid
Noticeable lump around the eye
Rubbing the face on surfaces
Noticeable pain that may be accompanied by yowling or crying
One or both eyes frequently closed
Bumping into walls and other objects
Feline eye conditions can become severe quickly, so pet parents should take action and make a vet appointment if a new symptom doesn’t clear up or gets worse. While waiting, pet parents can help their cat by gently wiping the affected eye with a warm, damp washcloth. However, it’s crucial never to touch the other eye with the same cloth. Pet parents can also use artificial tears for lubrication or sterile, over-the-counter eyewash to help flush the eye. Medications should only be used with vet approval.
Sometimes, a cat may develop an eye issue during the night or while the pet parent is on vacation. For guidance and telehealthcare day or night, pet parents can turn to Fuzzy vets for 24/7 Live Vet Chat.