What is Corneal Laceration?
Corneal laceration is considered a medical emergency. Immediate treatment is required in order to secure the best prognosis and to ensure your cat retains its sight in the affected eye.
Corneal laceration is a rare condition in cats that typically results from direct trauma to the eye. Lacerations to the cornea can range in severity from partial-thickness to full-thickness corneal laceration. Mild cases can be treated with topical eye drops and medications, while more serious cases may be treated with surgery or eye removal.
Symptoms of Corneal Laceration in Cats
Corneal laceration should be treated as a medical emergency. Seek immediate veterinary attention as soon you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Signs of pain
- A visible wound on the eye’s surface
- Involuntary closing of the eyelids
- Excessive blinking or squinting
- Redness and/or swelling around the eyes
- Cloudy eyes
- The presence of ulcers
- Rubbing and/or swiping at the eye*
*Do not allow your cat to continue to rub at the affected eye, as this may transfer bacteria to the eye, causing infection and worsening the condition. An Elizabethan collar will help in preventing this and may save the eye.
Causes of Corneal Laceration in Cats
There may be many possible causes of corneal laceration in cats. These can include, but are not limited to:
- Trauma to the eye, such as a scratch or bite
- The presence of a foreign object
- Corneal defects
There are no age, sex, or breed predispositions for corneal laceration as it is generally caused by physical trauma. However, cats that are excitable or aggressive – particularly if they routinely engage in fighting with other cats or animals – may have a higher chance of experiencing corneal laceration.
Diagnosis of Corneal Laceration in Cats
Your vet will make a tentative diagnosis based on a thorough physical examination and presentation of symptoms. Be sure to inform your vet of the extent and duration of your cat’s symptoms as well as any traumatic injuries or eye problems that may have caused the laceration.
Your vet can make a definitive diagnosis by taking an eye test and administering special eye drops that will temporarily dye the cornea, highlighting any damage present.
Treatment of Corneal Laceration in Cats
Treatment will depend on the severity of the condition. Some mild cases of corneal laceration can be treated with pain medication, eye drops, topical antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications, and the use of an Elizabethan collar. Antibiotics may be prescribed to control bacterial infection, if present.
More severe cases may be treated with surgery, usually involving absorbable sutures and covering the eye or temporarily stitching the eyelids to allow for comprehensive healing. For deep, penetrating corneal wounds, removal of the eye may be required. In this case, your vet may refer you to a veterinary ophthalmologist for specialized treatment.
Your vet will be able to recommend a treatment method based on the severity of the condition and your cat’s specific needs.
Recovery of Corneal Laceration in Cats
Recovery and prognosis will depend on the severity of the condition and the success of the treatment method. Always follow your vet’s post-treatment and/or post-operative instructions carefully. Never use any eye drops or saline solutions made exclusively for human use, as these may irritate the eye, slow healing, or worsen the condition.
Always administer any prescribed medications exactly as directed. If your cat has been placed on antibiotics, it is imperative that you administer the medication for the entire recommended duration of treatment even if the condition starts to improve. Failure to do so could result in aggressive recurrence or loss of sight.
On the return home, ensure your cat has a warm, safe place to rest during the recovery period. Follow your vet’s instructions in regards to the use of an Elizabethan collar. You may want to limit your cat’s outdoor activity during this time to prevent further damage to the eye. If the injury was caused by another cat or animal in your household, it may be a good idea to isolate the affected cat while the injury is healing.
If your cat has lost sight in the affected eye due to corneal laceration, your vet will advise you on lifestyle adjustments. Your vet will schedule follow-up appointments as needed to ensure the condition is healing correctly. For deep lacerations that have not been treated with sutures, your vet may check the eye as often as every 24 to 48 hours following initial treatment. For less severe lacerations, your vet may schedule a follow-up appointment within three to five days.
If the condition does not seem to be improving with treatment, or if you notice signs of infection or the formation of cataracts, contact your vet immediately.