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 Des Moines 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 eye's lens. The lens, a structure within the eye made up of protein fibers encased in a capsule, is in charge of focusing light on the retina and providing 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
- 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 occur as a result of a number 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 Des Moines veterinarians frequently detect cataracts early in their development during a routine physical exam. Because cataracts have not yet progressed to the point where they affect the cat's vision, these cats may not exhibit any signs of cataracts at home.
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.
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.
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 cats with untreated cataracts, corticosteroids or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory eye drops are used to lessen the inflammation within the eye. These medications won't affect the cataract itself, but it's still important to control inflammation to prevent glaucoma, which is a possible side effect of both inflammation and cataracts. The medical management of feline cataracts frequently focuses on preventing secondary glaucoma because glaucoma is challenging to treat medically and frequently requires the removal of the eye.