What are cataracts?
When the opacity of the lens of the eye increases, this is referred to as a cataract. The lens is the structure within the eye made of protein fibers, which are encased within a capsule. It's responsible for focusing light on the retina and allowing clear vision.
If your cat has developed a cataract, the lens that's normally clear will become cloudy or opaque, and interfere with the light's ability to reach the retina. Depending on the severity of the cataract, your cat's vision may be impacted significantly.
Cataracts can occur in cats of any breed, age, or sex. Birmans, British Shorthairs, and Himalayas may have a genetic predisposition to inherited cataracts.
What causes cataracts in cats?
Many potential factors can contribute to cataracts. Any type of damage to the lens can cause a cataract to develop.
Causes of cataracts that have been diagnosed in cats include the following:
- Inflammation within the eye
- Trauma to the eye
- Genetic or hereditary factors
- Metabolic diseases, such as diabetes or high blood pressure
- Exposure to radiation
- Nutritional imbalances
- Viral, bacterial, fungal, or protozoal infections
Inflammation within the eye (also referred to as uveitis) is the most common cause of cataracts. This can occur as a result of a variety of underlying disease processes. Uveitis can cause the immune system in your cat's body to mistake the lens for a foreign object, which can contribute to the formation of cataracts.
What are the signs of cataracts?
Our Parrish veterinarians can often diagnose cataracts early during a routine physical exam. Even the most watchful kitty owner may not see signs of a cataract in their four-legged friend because the condition has not yet progressed to the point where the cat's vision is affected.
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 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.