Posted on: May 20th, 2014 by Dr. Dale Rubenstein
Eye injuries are not something to fool around with, as they can worsen quickly if your cat rubs his eye. And just like children, if you don’t want him to rub his eye, that’s exactly what he’ll do! This week’s blog post was originally published on FelineDocs.org by Dr. Diana Lafer of Cats Limited Hospital in West Hartford, CT. Want to know when you should be concerned? Read on…
Last week Oreo’s owner called up confused. She explained that Oreo, her sweet little black and white tuxedo was absolutely fine, but she had started winking at her the day before. Oreo was eating and drinking and running around like her crazy self, so she couldn’t be in pain, but still, there was that wink. Our staff scheduled a visit for Oreo and I saw her that day. Indeed Oreo was perfectly healthy except that she had scratched the surface of her eye- the cornea. We started her on medication right away, including pain medication. The wink disappeared and her eye healed within a few days.
Cats are much more stoic than we are. Most of the time, they show very few outward signs of pain, so as pet owners we need to be detectives. If you have ever had an eye injury or infection, you know how painful that is. Cats feel the same pain as we do, they just don’t show it.
Eye injuries require prompt veterinary evaluation and treatment. Treatment with the wrong medication can prolong disease and in some cases, make things worse, so you will want your cat examined by your veterinarian in person, not over the phone.
Here are some things to look for, starting with the basics. Each of these signs warrants evaluation by your veterinarian.
- Redness: if one eye, or part of the eye is red, that means inflammation. This is most commonly caused by trauma or infection and often comes with pain.
- Is one eye closed? This means pain, even if everything else seems fine.
- Is there swelling around one or both eyes? Swelling is due to trauma, infection or inflammation.
- Is your cat rubbing at one eye? That’s her way of saying “This eye is hurt. Please make it better before I make it worse.”
- Is the third eyelid showing? This can indicate infection, inflammation, trauma or other diseases. Please see my previous blog about third eyelids.
- Discharge. The eyes are constantly producing some watery and some mucousy material to coat and protect the eye. Excess of either signals underlying disease. Colored (green or brown) mucous discharge is usually caused by infection.
- Excess tearing is often caused by irritation. Irritation = pain.
- What about the eyelids? Some cats’ eyelids don’t sit flat on the eye and can roll in, causing the eyelashes to rub on the eye. This causes painful trauma to the eye surface (cornea). Ever get a grain of sand in your eye? Now think 30 grains of sand. You get the picture.
- Is there a growth or bump on the eyelid? If so, this is best addressed early. If surgery is needed, it is always best to do before a growth gets too large, especially in this delicate area. Many (but not all) eyelid growths are benign.
In most cases, your family veterinarian can evaluate and treat your cat. Sometimes evaluation and treatment by a board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist is necessary. See http://www.acvo.org/ for more information.