What are Anterior Uveitis?
Anterior uveitis is common among cats, but can be a serious condition. If you spot any of the symptoms of anterior uveitis, take your cat to a veterinarian as soon as possible for treatment.
The uvea is a part of the eye that consists of the iris, choroid, and ciliary body. When the iris and ciliary body are inflamed, the condition is known as anterior uveitis, which translates to mean “inflammation of the front of the eye.” A number of different conditions can cause anterior uveitis, including infections, autoimmune disorders, and diabetes. To spot anterior uveitis, look for eye discharge, excessive blinking, and extreme redness, which all indicate your cat is uncomfortable and needs treatment.
Symptoms of Anterior Uveitis in Cats
Anterior uveitis can be quite painful, so you may notice your cat fussing with his eyes a bit more than normal. Some of the other symptoms that may indicate anterior uveitis include:
- Eye redness
- Excessive blinking
- Avoidance of lights
- Watery, mucus, or pus discharge from the eye
- Unusual color of the iris
- Cloudy appearance to the eye
Causes of Anterior Uveitis in Cats
Anterior uveitis can be caused by a number of different health conditions. The underlying cause must be identified in order to provide proper treatment and ensure your cat recovers. Some of the most common causes of this inflammatory disease include:
- Eye trauma
- High blood pressure
- Viral, bacterial, parasitic, or fungal infection
- Eye tumors
- Autoimmune disease
- Diabetes mellitus
Diagnosis of Anterior Uveitis in Cats
Take your cat to a veterinarian as soon as you begin to observe the symptoms of anterior uveitis. The vet will first begin to examine your cat’s eye to eliminate other possible issues, such as glaucoma and a corneal ulcer. First, the intraocular pressure will be measured, which is a quick and painless test. If the pressure is low, this eliminates the possibility that your cat has glaucoma. The vet will also closely examine the eye using an ophthalmoscope, which allows the vet to see inside of the eye. Using this tool, he should be able to tell the issue is with the uvea. Then, he can use a slit lamp to examine this area closer.
Once the vet has identified anterior uveitis, he will need to figure out what is causing it by performing a series of tests. A complete blood count, urinalysis, and biochemical profile will be performed to get a better picture of the cat’s overall health. These tests can also help the vet determine if your cat is suffering from an autoimmune disease or diabetes. Specific tests may also be performed to test for infectious diseases that could have caused the anterior uveitis.
If the vet believes your cat has suffered eye trauma, he may need to take an ultrasound of the eye to look at the extent of the damage.
Treatment of Anterior Uveitis in Cats
Treatment will focus on making the cat more comfortable and treating the underlying cause. To reduce inflammation, the vet may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication that will either need to be applied topically or administered orally. The vet may also prescribe medication to keep your cat’s pupils dilated. If this is not done, the iris may start to stick to the pupil, which will cause pain and permanent damage to the eye.
Next, the vet will create a treatment plan to address the underlying cause of the condition. If an infection is causing the anterior uveitis, antibiotic, anti-fungal or antiviral medication will be prescribed. Immune-related disorders can be treated with steroids administered orally. If diabetes is causing the anterior uveitis, your vet will ask that you change your cat’s diet to help manage this condition. If the diabetes is unmanageable, you may need to give your cat insulin injections on a regular basis.
Your cat may need surgery if he has been diagnosed with cancer or eye trauma. The surgery can either remove the cancerous tissue or repair the injuries caused by trauma.
Recovery of Anterior Uveitis in Cats
While your cat recovers, the vet may ask to see him on a regular basis to ensure everything is healing properly. If the condition is severe, the vet may even ask to see your cat on a daily basis to check for complications and adjust the treatment as necessary.
Most cases of uveitis will start to improve within a day, however if it was left untreated for an extended period of time, it may take longer to see progress. Unfortunately, anterior uveitis usually returns after it has been treated. Cats usually do not experience any complications with recovery until they have suffered from anterior uveitis on a number of occasions. They usually have a fairly normal, quick recovery from the first case of anterior uveitis.
If your cat has an infection, it’s important to keep him as clean as possible to prevent complications. You should keep other pets away from him if the diagnosis included a viral infection.