What is Iris Prolapse?
Iris prolapse can happen to any cat, but it is more likely to occur in cats that are aggressive in nature and tend to get into fights with other animals. If you notice eye swelling, cloudiness, or a thick layer of white or yellow mucus over the eye, bring your cat into a vet for treatment as soon as possible.
The iris is a crucial part of the eye that controls the movement of the pupil and the amount of light that reaches the retina. When your cat suffers some form of eye trauma and ruptures or damages his cornea, the iris may begin to slide forward or downwards. This condition is known as iris prolapse, and it requires immediate medical attention.
Symptoms of Iris Prolapse in Cats
The symptoms of iris prolapse will usually begin suddenly after your cat suffers an eye injury. Cat owners may observe some of these symptoms:
- Eye swelling
- Eye cloudiness
- Excessive squinting or watering
- Distorted or abnormally shaped pupil
- Bloody eyes
- Yellow or white mucus over the eyeball
Causes of Iris Prolapse in Cats
A cat’s iris can prolapse, or move forward or downward after the cornea has been penetrated or ruptured. Therefore, iris prolapse occurs after some sort of eye trauma. For example, if your cat is involved in a fight with another animal, or accidentally penetrates his eye with his claw, he could develop a prolapsed iris.
Any cat can experience a prolapsed iris, but it is especially common in outdoor or aggressive cats that tend to come into contact with other animals more often.
Diagnosis of Iris Prolapse in Cats
If you notice any symptoms of a prolapsed iris, bring your cat into a veterinarian as soon as possible. Discuss the symptoms you have observed with your vet, and let him know when your cat began to develop symptoms. If your cat has been involved in some sort of altercation, or has injured himself in any way, it’s important to let your vet know this as well.
The vet will need to examine the eye before arriving at a diagnosis. It’s possible the vet will apply a local anesthetic before beginning the examination so your cat does not feel any discomfort. The examination will help the vet determine the extent of the damage, including what parts of the eye are injured, and if they eye can be treated. A culture may need to be performed in case an infection has developed as a result of the eye trauma. It’s possible your vet will suggest you take your cat to a specialist for a second opinion.
If your cat has been involved in a fight, the vet may perform a full physical examination to check for other injuries that may have occurred outside of the prolapsed iris.
Treatment of Iris Prolapse in Cats
The treatment will depend on the extent of eye damage. Most cats will have to undergo surgery to treat a prolapsed iris. The surgery can only be done if the injury occurred recently and the vet thinks there is a strong chance the eye can be repaired without impacting the cat’s vision. During the procedure, the vet will remove any damaged tissue from the iris and repair the injured cornea.
The vet will also apply antibiotic eye drops into the eye right away to eliminate any bacteria that may have entered through the wound. Oral or intravenous antibiotics may also be administered, depending on the severity of your cat’s condition. An atropine, which is a medication used to dilate the pupil, may also be inserted into the eye. This is the vet’s attempt to pull the iris away from the injured cornea and save as much tissue as possible.
In extreme cases, the eye may need to be completely removed, but the vet will usually only recommend this treatment if the examination reveals a severe infection or the entire eye has completely collapsed and is beyond repair.
Recovery of Iris Prolapse in Cats
After a surgery, the vet will ask that you administer medications at home on a regular schedule. It’s important to follow the vet’s orders closely or bacteria may become resistant to the antibiotics. You will also need to bring your cat in for a follow-up visit with the vet so he can ensure everything is healing properly. If the eye has been completely removed, the vet will need to remove stitches that still remain from the surgery.
At home, it’s important to keep your cat indoors and away from other animals so he doesn’t reinjure himself. Most vets will recommend you put an Elizabethan collar on your cat so he does not scratch his eye while it is healing.
As long as you visit a vet in a timely manner, your cat should fully recover from a prolapsed iris.