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Cataracts may affect one eye or both eyes and are triggered by aging, injury, inflammation, disease and other non-specific causes. When the cat’s eye becomes cloudy, light is hindered from reaching the retina, and visual impairment ensues. In addition to visual impairment or total blindness, cataracts may also cause stress, irritation, and discomfort in some cats as they struggle physically and emotionally with the loss of their sight.
If you look into your cat’s eyes and see a cloudy or milky area, your cat may be developing cataracts. A cataract is a degenerative disorder of the lens of the eye that affects vision. You may notice your cat behaving differently as its vision becomes more impaired. In some cases, your cat may only have a small cataract that is barely noticeable. In severe cases, the whole lens will take on an opaque appearance and blindness will occur. Cataracts are a progressive disease and need immediate veterinary care.
In the early stages of cataracts, you may not notice any unusual symptoms in your cat. Often, your veterinarian is the first person to alert you to the problem during your cat’s annual wellness visit. Early intervention will help to stem the growth of the cataract and preserve your cat's sight. As the cataracts grow larger, you’ll eventually see a change in the appearance of the cat’s eye. A cloudy, milky spot will appear that can grow to cover the entire lens. You may notice your cat has one or all of these physical or behavioral symptoms:
Cataracts develop in cats for many reasons, and sometimes, the reason for your cat’s cataracts remains unknown. Some cats carry the DNA that makes them more likely to develop cataracts while other cats may acquire cataracts in their later years due to the aging process, just like humans. Reasons why cats develop cataracts include the following triggers:
At your cat’s annual wellness appointment, your veterinarian will examine your cat’s eyes for visual signs of cataracts. It may be necessary to dilate your cat’s eyes to get a better look at the internal structure of the eye. Your veterinarian will take a detailed history of your cat’s health and observe how your cat responds to visual stimuli. Your cat may be placed on the floor to see if it is able to avoid impediments and walk with a normal gait. One or all of the following may be required:
Your veterinarian will perform a standard physical examination to pinpoint the underlying cause of the cataracts, if possible.
A complete history of your cat will be recorded to learn of any medical or behavioral changes that you may have noticed.
A blood test will alert your veterinarian to any unusual or out-of-range results that may be responsible for your cat’s condition.
A urinalysis may help your veterinarian discover the underlying cause of your cat’s cataracts.
In some cases, an ultrasound will be performed to confirm the diagnosis or to aid the veterinarian in deciding if surgery is necessary.
Your cat’s eyes may be dilated in order to give your veterinarian a more thorough view of the cat’s eye structure.
Your veterinarian will create a treatment plan that is best suited for your cat depending upon your cat’s general health, the severity of the cataracts, and the location of the cataracts. The earlier cataracts are noticed, the easier it will be to stop the progression of the disease.
If the cataracts are discovered at an early stage, medication may sufficiently treat the condition and deter or avoid cataract growth and eventual blindness
If underlying disorders like hypertension or diabetes are responsible for your cat’s cataracts, your veterinarian will treat the specific disorder that is causing your cat’s loss of vision.
If cataracts are at an advanced stage, surgery may be recommended to save or restore vision.
In some cases, it is possible to restore your cat’s vision with a lens implant. This procedure is performed on healthy cats that are determined to be good candidates for this surgery.
The recovery period for cataracts in cats depends upon how the cataract is treated. Cats who are on medicines and eye drops will need to be checked frequently. Your veterinarian will evaluate and measure the improvement in your cat’s sight by examining its eyes and noting any shrinkage in the size of the cataract.
If your cat requires surgery, you will need to set up post-surgery appointments to ensure your cat is healing properly. These appointments are as crucial as the eye surgery in returning or improving your cat’s sight. Your veterinarian will decide if or when it’s necessary to use an Elizabethan collar to keep your cat from injuring the affected eye or eyes. Medications may need to be adjusted, and monitoring the effects of medical or surgical treatment is imperative.
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9 found helpful
Hello! Yesterday, my cat was squinting his right eye, particularly in light. Today, he no longer squints but it looks like he has a cataract, as his eye is cloudy, especially in reflection. He doesn’t seem to be bumping into things or having trouble with location. He’s about 9 months old so he shouldn’t be developing cataracts naturally. He runs and plays a lot so maybe he bumped into something and hurt his eye? I see no tear stains or tears, no cuts or wounds.
July 23, 2018
A cloudy eye doesn’t always mean cataracts and may be due to a variety of issues which may include keratitis (inflammation of the cornea); or for issues affecting the lens which may include cataracts, glaucoma, uveitis, lenticular sclerosis (normally seen in older cats) among other causes. Without examining Wynston I cannot determine the structure affected or the specific underlying cause, keep an eye on things and visit your Veterinarian to be on the safe side. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
July 23, 2018
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0 found helpful
Our 13 year old tabby recently began behaving oddly. Staying in his carrier, not coming upstairs or on the bed, and not recognizing us and appearing fearful. The vet could tell it was his vision and told us it was cataracts. Everything makes sense except his eyes are perfectly clear. This is very confusing and leave us wondering if it's actually cataracts. Perhaps we should seek another opinion.
0 found helpful
Yesterday my cat 9 month old cat, Trudy's, right eye was completely clouded over. It was the first time I noticed anything. She was acting completely normal: jumping, playing, playing, eating, blinking, etc. I called the emergency vet they said cataract and told me to make an appt. With my regular vet. Today, her eye is completely clear! Still she is acting normal. Should I be concerned?
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