My Cat Has Blood in Their Eye
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Cats are noted for their beautiful expressive eyes. While they can be of varying color, only albino cats will have red in their eye and not even all albino cats share this feature. This redness could be due to varying causes, but when the reason is blood in a cat's eye, it is the result of something called hyphema. Hyphema is the term referring to blood entering the anterior chamber. There are various underlying causes of this type of effusion which can affect the entire anterior eye chamber or only part. The cause can be localized to the eye or be a symptom of a larger systemic disease.
At AnimalWised, we look at the reason for hyphema in cats in our article on why my cat has blood in their eye. We understand what treatment may be necessary to preserve our cat's health and prevent blindness.
What is hyphema in cats?
Blood should not be present in your cat's eye. As with their coat and skin, the quality of a cat's eyes can suggest they have a health problem. This could be systemic and not affect the eyes directly or be a localized eye problem. When there is blood in the eye, the effusion can be unilateral or bilateral, depending on whether they affect one or both eyes, respectively.
With hyphema, it is also possible you will see blood in only part of the eye. This depends on the extent of the effusion. Blood will also move to different parts of the eye due to gravity. If the cat is at rest, the blood will usually settle down to the bottom of the eye, but it can move when they are more active.
In summary, ocular effusion in cats is a focal or multifocal hemorrhage produced by various ocular and extraocular pathological causes. It can also be due to unrelated to pathological processes such as trauma or fights.
Causes of blood in a cat's eye
When we see blood in a cat's eye, there may be some obvious signs the problem is localized or systemic. For example, if we see damage to the area around the cat's eye we may presume trauma is the root cause. While there are many different reasons for ocular effusion in cats, here are some of the most common:
- Systemic hypertension: increased blood pressure can cause the eye to attempt to self-regulate blood flow to maintain stable perfusion. This can result in altered capillary permeability causing protein and blood to leak into the eye. Damage in the retinal blood vessels can also lead to retinal detachment.
- Injuries: traumas such as those caused by a traffic collision, cornea scratches when fighting with other animals, falls from heights or any such injury can lead to blood entering the anterior chamber and hyphema.
- Uveitis: inflammation of the uvea of the eye can lead to secondary bleeding from the fragile blood vessels.
- Eye surgery: the after affects of eye surgery may have caused some blood to enter the eye, something which should clean up after recuperation.
- Ocular uveal tumor: these include lymphoma, hemangiosarcoma, adenocarcinoma and melanoma.
- Glaucoma: usually due to increased intraocular pressure.
- Vasculitis: inflammation of the blood vessels of the eye. Can be a primary cause, immunity-mediated or secondary to infections.
- Blood disorders: can lead to changes in platelets or other coagulation factors.
A range of ocular pathologies can affect felines. To learn some background information, take a look at our article on common eye diseases in cats.
Symptoms of hyphema in cats
Hyphema is in itself a symptom of an underlying problem, whether this be trauma, a systemic disease or any of the reasons mentioned above. This symptom is the presence of blood in a cat's eye due to effusion. It can be unilateral or bilateral, as well as fact different parts of an individual cat's eye. However, as there are various causes of hyphema in cats, we may see some related symptoms.
For example, a hypertensive cat may have eye effusion as a symptom. This will be in addition to other symptoms of hypertension such as lethargy or disorientation. Different organs have be affected in ways which cause hyphema, as well as behavioral and/or physiological signs. These can range from gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting or diarrhea or even developing sudden aggression.
Cats are very good at hiding pain. If they have been in an accident, they may not show many obvious symptoms. A hyphema is a type of internal injury of the eye, but it may highlight the possibility of the cat suffering other internal injuries.
Find out what symptoms to look out for in our guide on how to tell if a cat is in pain.
Diagnosis of hyphema in cats
The diagnosis of the cat's ocular effusion (hyphema) will be made via a series of tests dependent on the clinical signs present. As blood in a cat's eye is a symptom of an underlying cause, these tests will require some combination of physical examination, evaluation of their clinical history and various diagnostic tests. Ocular examination will be required to see the blood effusion itself.
A complication with ocular examination is extensive effusions may not always be observed in the inner part of the eye. Comparing one eye to the other can help, but this may be difficult if the problem is bilateral. This is why other diagnostic tests are often required.
Blood tests, biochemistry analysis and urinalysis, as well as measurement of coagulation factors, may also be helpful. It is also important to measure the cat's blood pressure, since hypertension is the main cause of ocular effusion in felines. Intraocular pressure will also need to be taken to rule out glaucoma.
Feline eye infections may appear with other obvious symptoms such as purulent secretions from the eye. Tests should be performed to look for the specific pathological agents that can cause eye effusion in the cat:
- Feline immunodeficiency virus antibodies
- Feline leukemia virus antigen
- Anti- Toxoplasma gondii antibodies (IgG and IgM)
- Diagnostic tests for feline infectious peritonitis
Finally, an ocular ultrasound can be useful to rule out tumors or retinal detachment. The correct diagnostic tools will be chosen by the veterinarian.
How to remove blood from a cat's eye
The treatment of hyphema is dependent on the underlying cause. In some cases, the effusion may resolve itself without treatment. When it is required, treatment of hyphema in cats includes:
- Rest: this reduces the probability of bleeding and allows the blood to settle to better observe the fundus of the eye.
- Topical corticosteroids: in cases of uveitis without corneal ulcers to control inflammation. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs should not be used because they can lengthen clotting times.
- Topical carbonic anhydrase inhibitors (dorzolamide): indicated if intraocular pressure is increased due to feline glaucoma.
- Topical tropicamide: used to dilate the pupil and prevent synechiae (adhesions) of the iris and keep it away from the lens. It is used three times a day until swelling is controlled, usually for treatment duration of one week.
- Surgical intervention: in case of perforations or eye injuries where repair needs to be carried out.
- Enucleation (excision of the eyeball): in cases with a bad prognosis and where medical or surgical treatment cannot treat the effusion.
Since it is necessary to know the cause that produces the spill in the cat's eye, it will be essential to go to the veterinary clinic in case of observing ocular bleeding.
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 My Cat Has Blood in Their Eye, we recommend you visit our Eye problems category.
- Aybar, V., et al. (2018). Clinical Manual of Feline Medicine. Ed.SM Publishing LTD. Sheffield,UK.