Glaucoma is a disease of the eyes that can occur suddenly in cats and can swiftly lead to blindness if left untreated. Today our Gaithersburg veterinary ophthalmologist explains more about this painful condition and the treatments available for cats suffering from glaucoma.
Glaucoma In Cats
Glaucoma is a painful eye condition that can affect cats as well as humans and other animals.
When your cat's eye is healthy, the pressure inside the eye is maintained by an ongoing cycle of fluid production and drainage. Glaucoma is increased pressure on your cat's eye caused by a failure of the eye's drainage system. The increased pressure can then lead to the destruction of the cat's retina and optic disk, where the optic nerve enters the eye.
Causes Of Glaucoma In Cats
Primary glaucoma is typically caused by a problem in how the eye has developed and is very rare in cats although sometimes seen in certain breeds including Siamese, Persian, and Burmese cats. This form of glaucoma usually begins in one eye, but it eventually involves both eyes and leads to complete blindness.
Secondary glaucoma in cats is more common and typically due to uveitis, (which is inflammation inside the eye), or advanced cataracts, tumors, or retinal detachment.
Symptoms Of Glaucoma In Cats
Despite the fact that this condition causes them great pain, cats are very good at hiding symptoms of glaucoma. Subtle signs of pain or illness include hiding, becoming less affectionate than normal and reduced grooming. Other signs of glaucoma in cats can include a partially closed eye, pawing at eyes, watery discharge, obvious swelling or bulging of the eyeball, bloodshot eye, cloudiness of the eye, dilated pupil or blindness.
Diagnosing Glaucoma In Cats
First, your vet will examine your cat for common symptoms of the condition. Afterward, your veterinary ophthalmologist will measure the pressures of your cat's eyes, using a special piece of equipment called a Tonopen to confirm a glaucoma diagnosis.
Can Glaucoma In Cats Be Cured?
Unfortunately, cats' tendency to hide signs of pain means that often the symptoms of glaucoma are often not picked up until the disease has progressed. By the time many cats see a vet they will have lost their eyesight permanently, and treatment will be focused on pain relief.
That said, when diagnosed early treatment may include a combination of surgery and medications to reduce eye pressures, preserve vision, and manage pain.
Eye Drops & Medications to Treat Glaucoma in Cats
A number of different eye drops and pills are available to help decrease fluid production or increase fluid drainage from the eye. However, these medications aren't usually effective for the long-term management of glaucoma. These treatments are most often used to help prevent or delay the onset of glaucoma in the remaining eye, or as a temporary treatment until surgery can be performed on the affected eye.
Treating Feline Glaucoma With Surgery
While surgical treatments are available for glaucoma in cats, the type of surgery will depend on whether your cat still has the potential for vision.
For cats with remaining vision, a veterinary ophthalmologist may be able to reduce the eye's pressure by performing a cycloablation procedure and a drainage implant procedure.
In felines that have already lost their vision, your veterinary specialist may recommend the removal of the eye in order to relieve the pain caused by 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.