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Cataracts in Cats

Have you noticed your cat's eyes have started to cloud over, this may be a sign that your cat is developing cataracts in its eyes? Today, our Powder Springs vets will provide you with information on cataracts in cats and what to look out for.

What are cataracts?

A cataract refers to an increase in the opacity of the lens of the eye. The lens, a structure within the eye composed of protein fibers encased within a capsule, is responsible for focusing light on the retina and allowing clear vision.

When a cat develops a cataract, the normally clear lens becomes cloudy or opaque, interfering with light's ability to reach the retina. The severity of the cataract can have a significant impact on the cat's vision.

Cataracts can occur in cats of any age, sex, or breed. A genetic predisposition to inherited cataracts has been observed in Himalayas, Birmans, and British Shorthairs.

What causes cataracts in cats?

There are many possible causes of cataracts. Any type of damage to the lens can result in the formation of a cataract.

Causes of cataracts that have been described in cats include the following:

  • Inflammation Within The Eye
  • Genetic Or Hereditary Factors
  • Trauma To The Eye
  • Metabolic Diseases, Such As Diabetes Or High Blood Pressure
  • Nutritional Imbalances
  • Radiation Exposure
  • Cancer
  • Infections Such As Viral, Bacterial, Fungal, Or Protozoal

The most common cause of cataracts in cats is inflammation within the eye, also known as uveitis. This can happen as a result of a variety of underlying disease processes. Uveitis can cause the body's immune system to mistake the lens for a foreign object, contributing to the formation of cataracts.

What are the signs of cataracts?

Cataracts are often detected early in their development by our Powder Springs veterinarians during a routine physical exam. These cats may not show signs of cataracts at home because the cataracts have not yet progressed to the point where they affect the cat's vision.

It is important to note that not all hazy eyes are caused by cataracts. As cats age, the lens often develops a cloudy appearance due to an aging change known as nuclear sclerosis or lenticular sclerosis.

If you're curious, you can use your favorite search engine to look for 'cataracts in cats pictures' and compare what you see with your cat. If you suspect something. contact your veterinarian first before doing anything else.

What are the types of cataracts in cats?

Cataracts are classified based on severity and percentage of the lens affected. These include:

  • Incipient cataracts: Affect less than 15% of the lens
  • Immature cataracts: Affect 15% to 100% of the lens; light can still pass through
  • Mature cataracts: Affect the entire lens; light passage is impeded

Diagnosing the type of cataracts your cat has helps greatly in determining treatment options.

How are cataracts in cats diagnosed?

Cataracts in cats are typically diagnosed through a comprehensive eye examination conducted by a veterinarian. During the examination, the vet will use an ophthalmoscope to look for cloudiness or opacity in the lens of the cat's eye, which is indicative of cataracts. In some cases, additional tests, such as ultrasound or blood work, may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis.

Once cataracts are suspected, further evaluation may be needed to determine the extent of the condition and whether surgery is necessary. This may involve measuring intraocular pressure, assessing visual acuity, and evaluating overall eye health.

How are cataracts in cats treated?

The best treatment for cataracts is surgery. This surgery involves breaking down and removing the cataract (a process known as phacoemulsification), then replacing the lens of the eye with an artificial lens.

After cataract surgery, cats typically experience some discomfort and may have some swelling or redness in the eye. They will need to wear a protective cone to prevent them from rubbing or scratching at their eyes, and may require eye drops or medication to aid in healing. It is important to follow the veterinarian's post-operative care instructions closely to ensure a smooth recovery process and minimize any complications that may arise.

If your cat has significant inflammation within the eye, cataract surgery may not be an option. Unfortunately, there are no medications that can dissolve cataracts or slow their progression. This means that cataracts will persist. Fortunately, cataracts are not painful and cats typically adjust well to blindness.

In order to reduce the inflammation within the eye in cats who have untreated cataracts, medications like corticosteroids or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory eye drops are used. Although the cataract itself won't be impacted by these drugs, it's still critical to manage inflammation to avoid glaucoma, which is a potential side effect of both inflammation and cataracts. Since glaucoma is difficult to treat medically and frequently necessitates the removal of the eye, medical treatment of feline cataracts frequently focuses on avoiding secondary glaucoma.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If you are concerned about your cat's eyes, please feel free to consult with our Powder Springs vets today and get your cat in for an assessment.

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