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What is Dark Spots on the Eye?

Feline corneal sequestrum is a condition in which dead corneal tissue accumulates on and around the cornea resulting in the development of dark spots on the eye. These spots may vary in size and depth and range in color from opaque to dark black. The condition is most common in cats with light-colored eyes and is particularly common in the Persian, Himalayan, Burmese, and Siamese breeds. Feline iris melanoma is another potential cause. It occurs when abnormal pigmented cells invade and proliferate throughout the iris. These cells may be either benign or malignant (cancerous), but represent small tumors in either case. 

Many cats are born with, or grow to develop, very interesting eye coloring patterns that may incorporate dark spots. Most often, color variations are harmless genetic features that in some cases are seen to be quite desirable when selecting a pet. However, some dark spots on the eyes of your pet may be a sign of a serious issue.

Dark Spots on the Eye Average Cost

From 352 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,000

Average Cost

$400

Symptoms of Dark Spots on the Eye in Cats

Iris melanoma is characterized by small, freckle-like spots on the iris. There are usually very few additional symptoms. If an abnormal cell mass becomes raised, it can lead to inflammation and tearing. However, the melanoma is very rarely painful, unless tumor growth is extremely severe. 

Though corneal sequestra can be very painful, signs of ocular pain in your cat are usually very subtle. Sight is often not hindered substantially and in many cases; the pain experienced is more of an annoyance. However, there are signs that your pet may be developing an issue. These signs include:

  • Squinting
  • Tearing
  • Elevation of the third eyelid

Depending on the duration of the condition, these indicators will be accompanied by secondary inflammation which could also lead to infection.

Types 

Iris Melanoma

Iris melanoma is most often benign and represents little to no pain or discomfort for the cat. In these cases, the largest concern is an elevated risk for glaucoma. It is possible that the masses may transition to malignant, so continued evaluation is recommended. If malignant, the opportunity for metastasis, or spreading of the cancer, is quite high, given the amount of direct fluid contact with the bloodstream. 

Feline Corneal Sequestra

Feline corneal sequestra can be painful and, at a minimum, uncomfortable to your cat. It may not always significantly impact your pet's sight, but if left untreated, corneal sequestra can remain for years and have permanent detrimental effects. The collection of dead corneal tissue can be a target for infection as well. If you picture the corneal sequestrum as a scab of the eye, you can imagine the issues this condition could bring about. Some instances of corneal sequestra will cause the immune system to attack the surrounding healthy tissues and spread the development of the dead tissue mass. 

If untreated, this mass can potentially separate from the surrounding eye tissue and ultimately lead to eye rupture. Depending on the severity, this outcome may not be repairable, thus leading to potential surgical eye removal. The best treatment option for eliminating this condition is early detection and surgical removal of the sequestrum.

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Causes of Dark Spots on the Eye in Cats

The cause of iris melanoma is not known. As with most other tumors, there are genetic markers to indicate predisposition, but no defined source exists. 

The true cause of feline corneal sequestra is also unknown. The condition is not known to be linked to any chronic diseases or conditions. However, it is commonly linked to any one or more of the following:

  • Eye trauma
  • Dry-eye syndrome
  • Abnormal eyelid conformation
  • Feline herpesvirus infection

It is also a common belief that genetics play a factor in the development of corneal sequestra. The occurance rate among certain breeds supports this theory. It is also commonly linked to specific feline features, such as lighter eye color and eyelid conformation. However, with all that is still unknown regarding the causes of the condition, it is most widely accepted that propensity for development of corneal sequestra is dependant on the individual cat. 

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Diagnosis of Dark Spots on the Eye in Cats

In the case of iris melanoma, a micro-needle biopsy can be performed to determine the nature of the tumors. This procedure is very delicate and should only be performed by a veterinary ophthalmologist. If malignant, the most effective course is removal of the eye.

Because corneal sequestra typically start small and develop into larger and larger masses, it is recommended to schedule your pet for regular and thorough ophthalmic examinations from a pet care professional. Because they can vary so widely in size, shape, and color, it is often hard to detect a sequestrum with the naked eye. In cases of early developing corneal sequestrum, the deteriorated tissues may only be detectable under magnification. A veterinary professional will also be able to distinguish sequestra from normal color variations within the eye, which could potentially mask a developing problem and be missed by a casual inspection. 

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Treatment of Dark Spots on the Eye in Cats

Iris melanoma, when benign, does not require any urgent treatment. A bi-annual examination should be enough to monitor and detect any further development of the melanoma. If tumors do advance, or cause disruption to the eye surface, laser removal options do exist. If melanoma are malignant, care must be taken to remove the tumors before they metastasize. This is often difficult to determine and has a low chance of preventing reoccurrence. The best and most reliable course is removal of the affected eye. 

When detected early, feline corneal sequestra can be removed through a standard surgical procedure known as partial lamellar keratectomy. This procedure, though commonly applied, is very meticulous and moderately invasive, requiring the use of general anesthesia. In this procedure, performed with the aid of a microscope, precision microscopic surgical tools are used to delicately remove the dead tissue. It is important to remove all of the dead tissue to prevent recurrence, but without substantially harming the healthy corneal tissues. In cases where the sequestrum is especially severe or deep, a conjunctival graft or even a corneal transplant may be sutured in to replace the removed tissues. 

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Recovery of Dark Spots on the Eye in Cats

Iris melanoma can be effectively managed through regular monitoring of the condition and local treatment of minor irritations as they occur. 

There is a very good chance that an otherwise healthy cat can recover from corneal sequestrum with no residual pain or significant loss of vision. When properly diagnosed and treated with the appropriate surgery in the early stages, this condition can be corrected with high levels of success. Because the condition causes are relatively unknown, continued monitoring of the eye condition is recommended, as a cat experiencing a corneal sequestra is likely susceptible to future occurrence; particularly in the cases of additional eye injury or trauma.

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Dark Spots on the Eye Average Cost

From 352 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,000

Average Cost

$400

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Dark Spots on the Eye Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Bengal

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Five Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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None

My cat has a little freckle in her eye and it concerns me

July 25, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Cats can get small freckles in the iris that are benign and can be normal, but they can also develop tumors and dark lesions that need attention. Since I cannot see her, it would be best to have your veterinarian look at the spot to see if it is worrisome or not. If it is not changing quickly, you may not need to take her in on an emergency basis, but making an appointment for her would be a good idea. I hope that all goes well for her!

July 25, 2020

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Athena

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Domestic shorthair

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5 Months

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

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Brown Spots On Eyes

My kitten is five months old and I have recently noticed that she has a brown splotch on each eye. My other cat has brown on her eyes too in her irises, but the kitten's spots appear to be more on her lense. There also may be slight cloudiness around the spots but I'm not sure. Is this something to worry about? She's just a domestic shorthair and as far as I know from the rescue I work at and adopted her from, her mother didn't have eye issues.

Aug. 30, 2018

Athena's Owner

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Kitty

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Nebelung

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5 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Kitty just turned 5 years old. He’s a male indoor cat. Ever since I rescued him from the side of the road when he was very young he’s always had a dark spot on his eye. Recently 2 more small spots have popped up. I looked it up and it said it could be growth of tissue behind his eye and could lead to serious things. I’m very worried now.

Aug. 20, 2018

Kitty's Owner

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0 Recommendations

It is possible that the spots are due to iris melanosis which are generally nothing to worry about, but there may also be more serious causes for dark spots; your Veterinarian should take a look and they may be able to tell you more. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 20, 2018

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Charlie

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Shorthair tuxe

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8 Years

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Fair severity

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Seen Above
Discoloured Dots In Iris

My cat has a few dots on his eye and more continue to come. They are in the Iris. He seems to not care about it and I would say that his health is quite good except he is slightly fat. He is a short haired tuxedo cat. And does not go out side. What do u do? There are no other signs. Just discoloured spots.

July 20, 2018

Charlie's Owner

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0 Recommendations

Without examining Charlie I cannot say for certain but it may be iris melanosis which are benign pigmentation changes to the iris resulting in multiple dark spots; however you should visit your Veterinarian to examine the eye to confirm the diagnosis to ensure that nothing more serious is occurring. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 21, 2018

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Cali

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American Shorthair Calico

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7 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Darkening Spots On Eye

I have an almost 8yr old (I think she’s a rescue) short hair, tortoise shell calico kitty, approximately 1yr ago, she began to develop light to medium brown spots on her left, lime green eye. It has since almost covered all of her yellow green, however, she shows no uncomfortable symptoms nor does she ever have any water elimination or crust build-up. Her vet has not seemed concerned, though, as it seems to have taken over, the more I research, should I be concerned?

July 3, 2018

Cali's Owner


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0 Recommendations

If your Veterinarian isn’t concerned, then it may just be iris melanosis which is normally nothing to be worried about; however if it is the cornea that is affect it may be corneal sequestrum which is the formation of dead tissue on the cornea. If you continue to have concerns, you should visit another Veterinarian in your area for a second opinion to put your mind at ease. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 4, 2018

Thank you. I feel it probably would be best for a possible second opinion. Can you describe the biopsy process, at least the during and after for the cat? Is it extremely painful and lasting?

July 4, 2018

Cali's Owner

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Laufie

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Domestic shorthair

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13 Weeks

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Dark Patch In Lower Panctum

I noticed that when I began to clean my cat's eye after a sleep, the left eye goop would be removed but a black stain would remain. At first I assumed that it was his fur colour but now I'm worried because I examined his earlier photos and realise that he didn't have this colour there before. Its only in the left eye, like if I'd applied eyeliner to his bottom lid and winged it but on the inner eye.

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Sana(socks in Welsh)

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Welsh

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3 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Dark Brown Ring Circle
Dark Brown Ring Circle Eyes
Dark Brown Ring Eyes

Hi, my black and white half house/wild cat has gold color eyes . I noticed there is a brown ring started around the edge of her Iris. I don't want to take her to vet. Can you tell me which food/vitamins and eye drops to use for her. Should she go veggi?

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Spice

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Maine Coon

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9 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

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None Noted

My cat has a very slowly growing black spot on his eye, nearest the nose, that looks like it is now trying to reach his pupil after 8 years. It looks just like a second pupil. It is not raised nor has it caused any or been caused by any eye structure defect. There are no symptoms to indicate that is painful or affecting his sight, yet anyway. Therefore the description of both the melanoma defect and the corneal separation issue are not applicable. He's a Maine Coon, almost 9 years old. Also a lone fur baby, and kept totally indoors.

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Luna

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Unknown

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7 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Eye Discharge
Squinting
Pawing At Eye
Dark Spots

I rescued my cat Luna about a year and a half ago from a family friend. When I took her in, I was told they didn’t know how old she was (they guessed maybe 6-7) and that she has always had eye discharge which they said was normal for her. She has brownish-red eye discharge in one eye and she paws at her eye semi-often. She doesn’t seem to be in any pain but she does squint sometimes. I was recently doing some looking and it seems like this isn’t normal. I have never had a cat before, and I feel awful that I let it go this long if it is something to worry about.

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Tabitha

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domestic short-haired

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14 Years

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Fair severity

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Has Symptoms

Brown Spots

My 14 year old short-haired black cat has brown spots on her right eye. The spots do not seem to bother her. She does have some "gook" sometimes that I wipe away with a tissue. She recently had complete blood panel and everything came back negative (no issues). She is a bit overweight. She is an indoor cat. Her left eye seems clear (no spots).

Dark Spots on the Eye Average Cost

From 352 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,000

Average Cost

$400

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