Eye problems

Feline Glaucoma - Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

Eduarda Piamore
By Eduarda Piamore, Expert in canine and feline psychology, education and training.. February 8, 2021
Feline Glaucoma - Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

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Glaucoma is a degenerative eye disease that can affect the eyes of our kittens, causing the progressive loss of the sense of vision. Although it can affect any feline, it is usually more common among elderly cats.

In this AnimalWised article we're going to explain what feline glaucoma is, its symptoms, causes, treatment and prevention. Keep reading to learn more about this eye disease.

  1. What is glaucoma in cats?
  2. Glaucoma symptoms in cats
  3. Causes of glaucoma in cats
  4. Treatment of glaucoma in cats
  5. Is it possible to prevent glaucoma in cats?

What is glaucoma in cats?

Glaucoma is a clinical condition characterized by the excessive accumulation of aqueous humor and a progressive increase in intraocular pressure. Ocular hypertension accelerates the degeneration of the retina and the optic nerve, which is why glaucoma can cause blindness or partial loss of vision. Next, we will tell you better how this phenomenon occurs.

The anterior portion of the eye, which is partially visible, is made up of the iris (the colored part), the pupil (central black circle), the sclera (the white part), the drainage channels, and ciliary bodies. The ciliary bodies are responsible for the production of a clear fluid called intraocular fluid (or aqueous humor), which lubricates and protects the anterior portion of the eye.

If the external ocular structure were dry, it would be vulnerable to a series of injuries or irritations from contact with impurities, microorganisms or with the eyelashes themselves. In a healthy eye, we identify a balanced mechanism of wetting and drainage, which constitutes a dynamic circulation system. Aqueous humor is expelled through the pupil to then be redirected to the drainage channels, and led into the blood stream.

When the drainage ducts become plugged, they cause obstruction of the intraocular fluid circulation system. As a consequence, aqueous humor accumulates, leading to increased pressure inside the eye. And this is how the clinical picture known as glaucoma develops.

Glaucoma symptoms in cats

Glaucoma is a silent disease that affects cats, dogs, and humans in much the same way. Its first symptoms are usually general and not very specific, making them difficult to recognize in cats.

Many caregivers only perceive an anomaly when the minimum eye shows a blurry appearance or gains a bluish or grayish hue, with obvious pupillary dilation. Others come to the veterinary clinic reporting that their cats began to walk in an unusual way, collapsing or hitting household objects. In these instances, it is likely that the cat has lost a good part of its vision, which explains their difficulty in recognizing obstacles in its path.

To enable an early diagnosis of glaucoma, it is important to be attentive to your cat's body language to quickly recognize any changes in its expression or behavior. The first signs of glaucoma in cats are:

  • Sensitivity in the eyes and in the ocular region.
  • Headaches (the cat will probably not like being touched on the head or near its eyes).
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Formation of a bluish halo around the iris.
  • Blurred appearance in the pupil and iris.
  • Dilated pupils.
  • Irregular walking and difficulty of spatial location.
  • Behavioral changes, for example the cat may hide more frequently, avoid contact with its guardians and other animals, or react negatively to being touched in the eye region and on their head.
Feline Glaucoma - Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention - Glaucoma symptoms in cats

Causes of glaucoma in cats

Feline glaucoma can be primary or secondary, depending on the factor that caused it. Like all degenerative diseases, glaucoma has a significant genetic load. However, this degenerative process can also be caused by another underlying disease.

Ophthalmic infections and inflammations, such as uveitis , cataracts, and neoplasms, are among the most common causes of acute glaucoma in cats. In addition, eye injuries from street fights, trauma or accidents can trigger an infectious process that favors the development of glaucoma in felines.

When glaucoma develops as a consequence of trauma or some underlying pathology, it is considered secondary or acute, while when it occurs due to genetics or malformation, it is primary.

Treatment of glaucoma in cats

The treatment of glaucoma in cats will depend on the cause, the state of health and the level of evolution of the degenerative process in each animal. It should be noted that the progression of glaucoma can be slowed down, but it is not possible to regain lost vision.

Typically, the veterinarian will administer an eye drop to restore the eye drainage system and balance the aqueous humor concentration. Anti-inflammatory or analgesic medications may also be used to relieve headache and eye sensitivity. If an underlying disease is diagnosed, treatment should also consider it.

When the degenerative process is more advanced, the veterinarian may recommend a surgical intervention to artificially drain the intraocular cavity, using laser technology.

Feline Glaucoma - Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention - Treatment of glaucoma in cats

Is it possible to prevent glaucoma in cats?

Although we cannot intervene in the genetic inheritance of our cats, we can offer them adequate preventive medicine, a positive environment and the necessary care to help them strengthen their immune system and maintain their good health.

For this, it is essential to provide them with a balanced diet and to keep them physically and mentally stimulated throughout their lives. Remember also to make periodic visits to the vet every 6 months, in addition to respecting their vaccination schedule and periodic deworming.

Also, do not hesitate to immediately bring your cat to the veterinarian if you notice any abnormalities in their appearance or behaviour.

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Feline Glaucoma - Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention, we recommend you visit our Eye problems category.

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Feline Glaucoma - Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention