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Cataracts in Cats

Some cats may experience a condition that causes their eyes to appear cloudy. This is referred to as cataracts. Today, our Cumming vets talk about cataracts in cats including the signs, and causes, and show they can be treated to restore your cat's vision.

What are cataracts and how do they affect cats?

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 starts to develop a cataract, the normally clear lens develops a cloudy or opaque appearance that interferes with the ability of light to reach the retina. Depending on how severe the cataract is, it can have significant impacts on the cat’s vision.

Cataracts are able to affect all cats regardless of breed, age, size, or sex.

What are the causes of cataracts in cats?

There is an abundance of potential causes of cataracts in cats. They can occur with any damage that happens to the eye.

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

Inflammation of the eye (uveitis) is one of the most common causes of cataracts in cats. Uveitis can lead the body’s immune system to recognize the lens as a foreign material, contributing to the formation of cataracts.

What are the signs that a cat may have cataracts?

Cataracts have a very distinct appearance. If you search the web for 'cataracts in cats pictures', you will be presented with many results for what this condition looks like, making spotting it in your cat easier.

In many cats, cataracts can be detected early in their development, during their routine physical exam. You may not be able to see the signs of cataracts at home, because cataracts have not yet progressed to the point that they are affecting 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.

Treatment & Recovery from Cataracts in Cats

The best treatment for cataracts is surgery. This ocular surgery involves breaking down and removing the cataract (a process known as phacoemulsification) and 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. There are no medications at this time 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, medications such as corticosteroids or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory eye drops are used to decrease the inflammation within the eye. Even though these medications will not affect the actual cataract, it is important to control inflammation to prevent glaucoma (a potential complication of cataracts and inflammation of the eye). Glaucoma does not respond well to medical treatment and often requires the removal of the eye; therefore, medical treatment of feline cataracts is often focused 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.

Is your cat showing signs of issues within their eyes? Contact Crestview Animal Hospital & Emergency today to get the help your cat needs.

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Crestview Animal Hospital & Emergency is always welcoming new patients! Our Cumming vets provide veterinary services designed to promote good health and longevity. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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