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Cataracts in Cats

Have you noticed that your cat's eyes have started to appear cloudy? This may indicate that your cat is developing cataracts. In this article, our vets in Meadow Vista will provide you with information on cataracts in cats, including what to look out for.

What are cataracts?

A cataract refers to an increase in the opacity of the eye's lens. The lens, a structure within the eye composed of protein fibers encased within a capsule, focuses light on the retina and allows 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 damage to the lens can cause cataracts to form.

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?

Our Meadow Vista veterinarians often detect cataracts early in their development during a routine physical exam. However, 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 cataracts do not cause all hazy eyes. As cats age, the lens often becomes cloudy 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.

How are cataracts in cats treated?

The most effective way to treat cataracts is through surgery. This involves removing the cataract using phacoemulsification and replacing the affected lens with an artificial one.

However, surgery may not be a viable option if a cat has significant eye inflammation. Unfortunately, there are no medications that can dissolve cataracts or slow down their progression, so the cataracts will continue to persist. The good news is that cataracts are not painful, and cats usually adapt well to blindness.

Corticosteroids or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory eye drops are used to reduce inflammation in cats with untreated cataracts. While these drugs do not affect the cataract, managing inflammation is crucial to preventing glaucoma, which can arise from both inflammation and cataracts. As glaucoma is hard to treat medically and frequently requires eye removal, treating feline cataracts often focuses on preventing 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 Meadow Vista vets today and get your cat in for an assessment.

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Meadow Vista Veterinary Clinic is accepting new patients including dogs, cats and large animals. Get in touch today to book your first appointment.

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