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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. Today, our Little Rock vets will provide you with information on cataracts in cats and what to look out for.

What are cataracts?

A cataract is an increase in the opacity of the lens of the eye. The lens, made up of protein fibers encased in a capsule, focuses light on the retina and provides clear vision.

When a cat develops cataracts, the clear lens becomes cloudy or opaque, preventing light from reaching the retina. The severity of the cataract can significantly affect the cat's vision.

Cataracts can occur in cats of any age, gender, or breed. Himalayans, Birmans, and British Shorthairs all have a genetic predisposition to inherited cataracts.

What causes cataracts in cats?

Causes of cataracts 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 of the eye, also known as uveitis. This can result from a variety of underlying disease processes. Uveitis can cause the immune system to mistake the lens for a foreign object, which contributes to cataract formation.

What are the types of feline cataracts?

Feline cataracts can be classified into three main types: congenital cataracts, developmental cataracts, and senile cataracts. Congenital cataracts are present at birth, while developmental cataracts develop later in life due to factors like injury or disease.

Senile cataracts are the most common type of cataracts in older cats, typically developing as a result of aging and natural wear and tear on the eye lens. These cataracts can cause vision impairment and may require surgical intervention for treatment. 

What are the signs of cataracts in cats?

Some signs of cataracts in cats include cloudiness or opacity in the eye, changes in eye color, and difficulty seeing in low light conditions. Other symptoms may include increased clumsiness or bumping into objects due to impaired vision. If you notice any of these signs, it is important to consult with a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment options.

How are cataracts in cats diagnosed?

Cataracts are often detected early in their development during a routine physical exam. 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 a 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.

How are cataracts in cats treated?

The best treatment for cataracts is surgery. It 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, it is important to follow your veterinarian's post-operative care instructions closely, which may include administering medication, monitoring for any signs of infection or complications, and limiting your cat's activity. Providing a quiet and comfortable environment for your cat to rest and heal can also aid in their recovery process.

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.

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 Little Rock vets today and get your cat in for an assessment.

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