Home: Cat Cataracts

Cat Cataracts
Causes and Treatments

Drawing of Cat eye cataractCat cataracts are not a common problem with cats, but there are conditions which promote the growth of a cataract.  Its important to catch the problem early because as the cataract ages, it becomes tougher to reverse and leave your cat blind.

Your cat's eye cells regenerate just like your skin cells, expect they don't flake off of the eye like you skins old cells do.  Instead they start to accumulate in the center of his eye and turn a cloudy blue-grey like in the drawing above.

Most common causes of cat cataracts:

  • Certain cat breeds

  • Diabetes

  • Uveitis

  • Trauma to the eye

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Causes

You can't imagine her gorgeous peek-a-boo eyes clouded with a grey ulcer.  Check for changes in your cat's eye color and clarity; for a cloud cat eye or a change in pupil size.

Charming Tonkinese cat playing peek-a-boo

If you have a Birman, Himalayan, Persian or British Shorthair cat be extra sensitive to eye disorders.  These breeds have a higher incidence or cat cataracts.

Just like in humans, diabetic cats are prone to cataracts.  Also, if you cat has a leukemia virus, toxoplasmosis, feline immunodeficiency virus or feline infectious peritonitis, his eyesight may be compromised by the inflammatory disease, uveitis.

Symptoms of uveitis are a change in the eye color, a rough surface to the eye and the pupil gets smaller.  This is very painful to your cat and you may notice him squinting, have water eyes or eyelid spasms.

Treatment

Just because a cataract is present, it doesn't necessarily mean surgery. The size and location of the cataract are factors in treatment. If the cataract is small, your cat can see around the cataract. However, he may have a harder time seeing in a brightly lit room or if he is outdoors on a particularly bright day.  If he can get around safely, then surgery isn't necessary.

If the cataract is large or very dense, then complications can be controlled with medications. It is completely reasonable to expect your cat to have a good life even if he becomes blind. Keeping him indoors helps protect him as well as keeping things in the same place so he can learn the paths to his toys, litter box, food and favorite areas. Keep the lights dim helps him see better with what eyesight he has left. 

Surgery

A puncture to the eye lens or larger congenital cat  cataracts are candidates for surgery. Some cat owners forego cataract surgery that is caused by uveitis. Uveitis already causes inflammation to the eye, so surgery can just lead to more inflammation, complications and pain.

The retina, the tissue in the back of the eye that receives light, must be functioning in order for your pet to benefit from surgery. The retina is like the film in a camera. If it's not there, then there won't be a picture. Therefore, assessment of the retinal function is necessary.  

There isn't any sense in performing surgery on an eye that won't recover vision.  The biggest risk in cataract surgery is the first four to six hours after surgery. This is usually minimized with medication. The long-term vision risk is retinal detachment and that happens to about 5% of  post-surgery patients.

Surgery may or may not include lens implants. Humans rely on their close-up vision for reading, sewing, and seeing the speedometer, so human  cataract surgery usually includes lens implants to normalize our vision. Your cat won't be reading or driving and can get alone without the lens.  He will be left farsighted, so he can see far well, but close-up is a problem.  The mice will cheer! ;>

Of course, including a lens implant increases the cost of the surgery. The pre-op analysis, surgery and post-surgery checkups run from $1,500 to $3,000. Then there is the post-op medication. Opting for a small monthly cat health insurance program helps with the financial burden. It certainly reduces the costs of treating cat cataracts and long-term cat eye care.

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Natural Remedies

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Not all cat cataracts warrant surgery. A blind cat can lead a normal, happy life indoors and with proper eye medications.



 

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