A healthy cat’s eyes should be bright and clear. But what if they are not? What if they are cloudy or have a discharge? Is your cat constantly rubbing his eyes? There are a number of cat eye conditions that can lead to devastating consequences, including surgery or blindness.
Learn the symptoms of these conditions so you can check your cat’s eyes for early detection of a problem. If you see signs of irritation, discharge, or inflammation, check with your vet to insure nothing serious is going on.
Major Parts of a Cat’s Eye
First, let’s have a little anatomy lesson. Here are the major parts of a cat’s eye:
CORNEA: Transparent outer layer at the front of the eye
LENS: The lens is located behind the iris. It changes shape in order to focus light rays.
PUPIL: This is the dark-colored center of the eye. Light enters through here.
IRIS: Circular, colored portion
RETINA: The liner of the inside of the eyeball. It sends visual information to the brain through the optic nerve.
Cats also have a third eyelid. It is located at the inside corner of the eye. This third eyelid helps keep the eye moist and protects it from danger.
Common Causes for Cat Eye Discharge
Feline upper respiratory infection is a frequent cause. Such an infection comes from a number of viruses. These can include feline calicivirus, which is a contagious respiratory disease, pneumonitis or rhinotraceotis (herpesvirus), bacteria, and protozoa.
Symptoms of these vary from mild to serious and may include a sticky, pus-like eye discharge.
Conjunctivitis (pink eye) is also common among cats. It is an inflammation of the light pink lining around your cat’s eye. It can cause one or both eyes to look red and swollen, be light-sensitive, and have a clear discharge that is either teary or a thick mucus.
If conjunctivitis is accompanied with fever, diarrhea, or trouble breathing, it could lead to the potentially fatal feline infectious peritonitis.
Corneal disorders may occur. A cat’s cornea, the dome-shaped surface that covers the front of the eye, can become inflamed, injured, or can be ulcerated. The result of this corneal disorder can be cloudiness, excessive blinking, inflammation, and increased tear production.
If your cat has watery, tearing eyes, these can be caused by blocked tear ducts, overproduction of tears and allergies, among other things.
Uveitis is an inflammation of the internal structure of the eye. Trauma, cancer, immune problems or infections can cause this serious and often painful condition.
Dry Eye is a condition that is caused by a chronic lack of tear production. Dry Eye can lead to an inflamed cornea, red eyes, and if not treated, blindness. Because the water portion of tears is missing, the eye may have a yellow, gooey discharge.
Other eye discharge causes include feline infectious peritonitis, allergies, something in the cat’s eye, or problems with the third eyelid.
Glaucoma is a painful condition which occurs when the fluid in the eyeball does not drain properly. It causes pressure in the eyeball and can lead to blindness. Symptoms of this condition include tearing, redness, cloudiness, or dilated pupils. Due to increased pressure, the eye may also bulge. Medication can help.
Entropion is another potential eye problem. In this condition, the edges of the eyelid fold inward and the eyelashes rub against the cornea. This can result in corneal damage and scarring.
Caring For Your Cat’s Eyes
Check the kitty’s eyes on a regular basis. If you notice redness, cloudiness, black spots on the colored part of the eye, or discharge, see the vet.
Schedule wellness exams. Regular checkups with your vet will keep your cat’s over-all health in balance.
Clean the eye gently. Use a damp cotton ball. Be careful not to touch the eye itself, as you can damage the cornea.
Here are some instructions for home eye care from pethelpful.com
1) Dip a cotton ball in water and wipe away discharge, always from the corner of the eye outward. Use a fresh cotton ball for each eye. Do not buy over-the-counter drops but use just what the vet prescribes.
2) Wet the cotton with lukewarm water or water at room temperature. Do not use tap water, but purchase distilled water.
3) Squeeze extra water out of the cotton
4) Hold the cotton ball over the cat’s eye. Do not press or apply pressure. Gently wipe the cotton ball in the direction of the cat’s fur — from tear duct to outer eye. Wash it this way several times a day.
A cat eye infection is not a joking matter. Permanent damage and vision loss can occur if the eyes are not treat right away. Scar tissue may develop and clog tear ducts.
Do NOT use the following on your cat’s eyes:
a) Apple cider vinegar
b) Manuka honey
c) Colloidal silver
d) Human ointments and eye drops
e) Brewer’s yeast
Do not use green tea or chamomile tea to treat cat eye infections. For one thing, there is no guarantee of sterility. Undetectable debris may worsen the eye condition. There is no guarantee of quality (bleached tea bags or pesticides may affect them negatively) There’s no guarantee of effectiveness and these will not help viruses.
Please note: I have added a few pictures to this post, showing some eye conditions that are not good. Believe me, they were the “gentler” ones. If you are one to look at more pathetic shots, you will have to look them up yourself, because I do not want to put them on here…they really bother me.
For a happier eye story, go to my post about the meaning of cats’ eyes. It’s much lighter reading.