A cat’s eyes view the world with razor sharp detail and precision, and generally a healthy cat will have good vision for all 9 lives. But things can cause loss of vision and it’s best to know what can go wrong, how it can go wrong, and where to seek out the best help. A veterinary eye specialist who has extra diagnostic skills would be your cat’s new best friend.
Cat Faeries trusty feline friend Newton gives us the cat’s eye view of feline vision health, and the medical conditions which can affect it.
Newton’s Purrspective – When Should Your Cat See an Eye Doctor?
Have you ever taken your cat to an eye doctor?
Most people assume cats have nearly perfect vision. In reality their visual acuity is in the range of 20/100 to 20/200. This means that what a cat can see at 20 feet a person can see at 100-200 feet. Of course, we do excel at night vision, needing only 1/6 the amount of light a human would need. http://www.businessinsider.com/pictures-of-how-cats-see-the-world-2013-10 Being nearsighted is no handicap for us at all. The real problem is the eye diseases cats get, some of which can lead to permanent blindness.
The most frequently diagnosed ailment is conjunctivitis, an inflammation of the mucous membranes around the eye. It is highly contagious, but curable if treated promptly. Your veterinarian may prescribe antibiotic eye drops or ointment. In addition, you may wish to supplement this with a holistic remedy such as Colloidal Defense, which has many immune system benefits beyond helping eyes heal. Cats also need a calm environment to recover from any illness and to remain healthy. I have four feline siblings and I don’t know what we would do without Convivial Housecat and the Ball of Twine CD. (People enjoy this music too!)
More serious eye conditions include:
- cataracts (an opacity of the lens)
- glaucoma (increased pressure inside the eyeball) http://animaleyecare.net/diseases/glaucoma/
- uveitis (inflammation of the pigmented part of the eye)
- tumors (benign and cancerous) http://www.vet.cornell.edu/fhc/health_information/vision.cfm
An ocular discharge or pawing at the eye are clear signs that professional help is needed as soon as possible. A scratched cornea from rough play is very painful! However, some problems have no obvious symptoms and can only be diagnosed with special instruments such as an ophthalmoscope. When Kitty has an exam your vet will evaluate both eye condition and overall health. (An eye problem can be related to other health issues.) You may then be referred to a veterinary ophthalmologist for additional diagnostics and care.
Cataracts are visible as a cloudiness in the center of the eye. Left untreated they can lead to glaucoma. http://www.veterinaryeyeinstitute.com/cataract-surgery/
Symptoms of glaucoma include pain and swelling of the eyeball. Blindness occurs rapidly if the pressure inside the eye is not reduced. Medications to relieve pain and reduce pressure will be prescribed, but in some cases surgery may be needed. http://www.vcahospitals.com/main/pet-health-information/article/animal-health/glaucoma-in-cats/3938
Uveitis has variable symptoms including squinting, light sensitivity, tearing and discoloration of the eye. http://animaleyecare.net/diseases/uveitis/ The cause, though often difficult to determine, is usually trauma, infection or cancer. The chosen treatment will depend on the probable cause. If glaucoma is also present this MUST be treated as well. Immune system support is vital. (Colloidal Defense helps support the immune system.)
Melanomas are the most common eye tumors in cats. Usually areas of increased pigmentation are visible. However, please note that not all increased pigmentation is pathological – discoloration is often benign. My sister, Tommy Lee Jones, has “iris freckles” in one eye. Don’t take chances with your cat’s eyes. Only a trained professional can make a diagnosis. http://veterinaryvision.com/for-veterinarians/clinical-forum/specific-disease-topics/feline-ophthalmology/
The most common diseases leading to blindness are:
- uveitis (may be associated with infection or trauma)
- retinal detachment (often associated with high blood pressure due to hyperthyroidism)
- trauma (provide a safe environment and trim toenails to decrease risk)
An eye exam should be part of your cat’s regular veterinary checkup, as well as blood tests for hyperthyroidism in senior cats. However, if you suspect any problems with your cat’s eyes please seek professional help as soon as possible. Prompt treatment may save Kitty’s sight.