Eye Health Issues and Treatment Options

As a cat owner, it is important for you to promote good cat eye health by knowing what a healthy eye looks like as opposed to an eye with a defect. The eye should be clear and bright with the area around the eyeball showing white. If you see red inner lids, discharge, cloudiness, dullness, tear-stained fur around the eye or the “third lid” coming over the eye, you are seeing symptoms of illness in the eye. You need to have your vet examine your cat’s eye to determine the cause.

One of the most common issues with cat eye health is conjunctivitis. This is an inflammation of the membranes that cover the inner lining of the lid and the white of the eye. Conjunctivitis can be a result of allergies or infections by viruses, bacteria, or fungus. One of the viral infections that will cause chronic recurrences is herpes. If the condition is caused by infection, it can be spread to other cats, so you should keep your cat away from others until you know what the cause is and can clear up infection. Infection can also occur if the cat has been in a fight or accident that caused an ulceration of the cornea. Most likely the vet will prescribe an ophthalmic ointment to treat infection.

Overly watery eyes is another common eye problem for cats. Generally, this is an inherited defect in which the tear duct is blocked causing over tearing.

Much like humans, cats can also develop cataracts and glaucoma. Cloudiness of the lens, or cataracts, usually starts in older cats just like in older humans. Eventually, you may have to ask your vet to surgically remove the cataract to help your act remain active and able to see. If fluid is not draining from the eye properly, the cat can also develop the serious eye condition called glaucoma. This disease involves too much pressure on the inside of the eye.

If the vet prescribes eye drops, you will need to know how to administer them properly. First, clean the eye of any discharge. You may need someone to help hold your cat on its side. Use one hand to hold the eye open has you use the other to squeeze the drops into the eye. Make sure the tip of the bottle does NOT touch the eye or surrounding surfaces since it will contaminate the bottle with the infection. Once you have the drops in, allow the cat to blink so that it spreads the medicine over the entire surface of the eye.

Ointment may be a little more difficult to apply. Again, start by using a moist cotton ball or cloth to clean the eye and surrounding area. With the help of an assistant, restrain your cat on its side. While holding the eye open, you will need to keep the tube parallel to the lower lid squeezing the ointment along the edge of the eye. Usually, it needs to be a line about the length of a grain of rice. This can be a challenge if the cat is moving a lot because you have to be close enough to the eye to allow the ointment to rest on the edge of the lid without touching the infecting area with the tip to prevent contamination of the medicine. Once you have the ointment in place, the cat’s naturally blinking reflex will spread it over the eye. To get your cat’s eye health back in balance, use the medicine for the full term the doctor recommends.