What is Dermoids in the Eye?
Dermoids in the eye warrant immediate veterinary attention as they can affect a cat’s sight. They may also cause corneal scarring and other eye complications. Some mild cases of ocular dermoids require no treatment. More severe cases are typically treated with surgery.
Ocular dermoids in cats are usually characterized by the growth of hair on or near the cornea, or in the conjunctiva, the white of the eye. They may also appear on the upper eyelid. This condition is a rare congenital defect and will typically become apparent early on in a cat’s life.
Symptoms of Dermoids in the Eye in Cats
Signs of ocular dermoids will typically present themselves early on, and may be more or less severe depending on the extent of the hair growth. Symptoms may be nonspecific or may be similar to those of other eye conditions. Seek immediate veterinary attention as soon as you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Hair growing on or near the cornea or conjunctiva
- Opaque cornea
- A circular section of skin near the site
- Excessive tear production
- Signs of irritation
- Pawing at the eye
Causes of Dermoids in the Eye in Cats
The only cause of dermoids in the eye in cats is congenital defect. Due to its rarity, there is not a wealth of literature on the condition. Burmese and Birman cats have a higher chance of developing the defect than other breeds. No sex or age predispositions have been identified.
Diagnosis of Dermoids in the Eye in Cats
Your vet will be able to 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 prior eye conditions or birth defects that you know of. Your vet may also ask for your cat’s complete medical history, so be prepared to provide this information.
Physical examination and presentation of symptoms are typically sufficient to make the definitive diagnosis. However, your vet will perform an ophthalmoscopy – eye exam – in order to determine the extent of the hair growth and to identify any corneal damage. Your vet may perform additional diagnostic tests to ensure that the defect has not caused any other eye problems.
Treatment of Dermoids in the Eye in Cats
Treatment may vary depending on the severity of the condition. Your vet will be able to advise you on a treatment plan based on your cat’s specific needs. Mild cases of ocular dermoids that are not causing any problems for the cat may not require treatment. Artificial tear eye drops may be prescribed in other cases to promote lubrication.
More advanced cases, in which the sight is affected, will require surgical treatment. The procedure is generally straightforward, and primarily involves excising the dermoids from the cornea, conjunctiva, or eyelid. This will typically require general anesthetic. Your vet will assess your cat’s health and determine whether or not they are healthy enough to undergo anesthetization. Your cat may or may not be hospitalized for a short time following surgery in order for the eye to recover and heal. Analgesics for pain management and other medications are generally not required following surgery.
Recovery of Dermoids in the Eye in Cats
Recovery and prognosis may vary depending on the severity of the condition. Always follow your vet’s post-treatment and/or post-operative instructions carefully. Always administer any medications exactly as directed for the full duration of the recovery period. Never use any artificial tear products or eye drops made exclusively for human use unless specifically instructed to do so by your vet, as these may exacerbate the condition.
If your cat has had surgery, ensure they have a warm, safe place to rest. Do not allow them to irritate the surgery site. An Elizabethan collar may help with this. You should check the surgery site daily to ensure there is no swelling or discharge. You may want to limit your cat’s outdoor activity in order to promote healing and prevent eye injury.
Your vet will schedule follow-up appointments as needed to monitor healing. Your vet will examine the eye to ensure that the entire defect has been removed and that no additional scarring has occurred. Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that the condition will recur.
If you have any questions, or if the condition has recurred or does not seem to be improving despite treatment, contact your vet immediately.