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What is Retinal Detachment?

Retinal detachment in cats is a condition that occurs when the retina detaches, or separates, from the innermost lining of the eyeball. The retina is a sensitive membrane within your cat’s eye that receives light impulses through the lens. The retina then sends this information to the brain, which processes the visual information allowing for sight. Retinal detachment is a severe condition that may cause permanent blindness in your cat if treatment is delayed. If you suspect your cat is suffering from this condition you should seek immediate veterinary care for the best potential of a positive outcome.

Retinal Detachment Average Cost

From 329 quotes ranging from $500 - $4,000

Average Cost

$2,000

Symptoms of Retinal Detachment in Cats

Retinal detachment causes blindness in your cat. While this may be obvious to spot if the condition is affecting both eyes, if retinal detachment is unilateral (only involving the vision of one eye), the symptoms may be more subtle. Signs to watch for that your cat may be suffering from retinal detachment include:

  • Lack or reduction in movement
  • Bumping into things
  • Falling excessively or missing jumps
  • Improper dilation of eye
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Causes of Retinal Detachment in Cats

Retinal detachment occurs when the retina separates from the other, supportive structures within the eyeball, disrupting the normal communication of information from the outside world to the brain. There are several common causes of this condition:

  • Hypertension or elevated blood pressure
  • Trauma or injury
  • Buildup of fluid behind the eye such as blood from a hemorrhage
  • Age-related degenerative conditions in older cats
  • Congenital defects (defects in the eye that your cat is born with)
  • Glaucoma
  • Side effect from eye surgery for cataracts or glaucoma
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Tumors
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Diagnosis of Retinal Detachment in Cats

Diagnosis of retinal detachment in your cat will begin with a thorough physical examination conducted in your veterinarian’s office. You should supply a complete medical and physical history of your cat to your vet at this time. You should note your cat’s approximate age if known and whether they have any history of other medical conditions. Of particular importance will be whether your cat has previously been diagnosed with hypertension, thyroid disease or other conditions from the list of potential causes of retinal detachment. You should also let your vet know whether your cat has recently suffered any traumatic impact or injury or whether they are allowed outside on a regular basis where they could have become injured.

Based on the information you provide, your veterinarian will proceed to thoroughly examine your cat’s eye for any signs of injury, tears or other damage. This will be done using an ophthalmoscope, a device similar to one used by human eye care professionals. In many cases, your veterinarian will also need to dilate your cat’s eyes. Similar to the procedure in humans, several drops of a dilating liquid are placed in your pet’s eyes and allowed to take effect. These drops are harmless and may cause impaired vision in your cat until they wear off.

Your veterinarian will also want to perform a full blood work up for your cat. These results will indicate whether your pet is suffering from an underlying condition that is causing the retinal detachment, such as hypertension or a thyroid disorder.

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Treatment of Retinal Detachment in Cats

Treatment of retinal detachment in your cat will depend on the underlying cause and the severity of the injury in your pet. First, if your cat is suffering from swelling, hemorrhaging or hypertension, your vet will administer medications to immediately reduce the inflammation. This will treat the underlying cause of the detachment. 

The next step is to correct the detachment. This can be done with a conservative approach using medications or with surgical reattachment. In cases which the detachment is partial, allowing time for healing and regeneration of the retina is preferred. Anti-inflammatory drugs or steroids may be given to help support the healing process. In most mild cases, this conservative approach will be sufficient.

If there is significant damage or a complete tear of the retina, your vet may want to perform surgery on your cat’s eye. This will be a delicate procedure that should be conducted by a specialist in feline eye surgery. Your cat will need to undergo anesthesia for this procedure, which has a variety of potential risks if your cat is not otherwise in good health.

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Recovery of Retinal Detachment in Cats

Depending on the severity of the detachment, your cat has a good prognosis for long term recovery after suffering retinal detachment. In most cases, your cat will have partial to full recovery of vision within several months. If your cat’s eye has been surgically repaired, it may take slightly longer for recovery. Since these types of injuries are prone to recur due to the weakness caused by the initial onset, you should strictly follow your vet’s treatment plan for dealing with the underlying condition and follow any post-operative instructions to ensure the best possible outcome for your pet.

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Retinal Detachment Average Cost

From 329 quotes ranging from $500 - $4,000

Average Cost

$2,000

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Retinal Detachment Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

feline

dog-age-icon

Twenty Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Blindness, Retinal Detachment

does anyone do retinal reattachment surgery for senior cats? I am being told that treating hypertension can result in some healing of the retina. I have also been referred to a neurologist to evaluate whether a brain tumor is causing it. No one talked about surgery. We noticed the blindness four days ago and my cat got her first dose of antihypertensive about 14 hours later. This was after my vet office tried to give me an appointment 25 days in the future. I am not feeling confident

Aug. 5, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. The longer that the retina is detached, the less chance there is that it is going to reattach with surgery. Treating the hypertension is often the best way to help heal the retina and the tear. If you are not sure about the diagnosis, it would be best to have an ophthalmologist look at your cat's eyes, as they are the experts in whether or not the retina could be reattached. I hope that all goes well for your cat.

Aug. 5, 2020

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Siamese

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Twelve Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Vision Loss

My cat has bad kidney disease and gets fluids twice a day. For the last month her eyesight has gotten progressively worse. It went from her not wanting to jump on and off my bed to having trouble with stairs and bumping into everything. How severe could her potential detachment be and is there a chance she could get her sight back if treated? I live in a small town is this something the average vet can deal with?

July 30, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. There are many causes for a loss of vision in cats, and retinal detachment is one. If there is a detachmenet, it would have to be dealt with soon after it happened or it would likely be permanent. If there is another cause, there may be a treatment. Without seeing your cat, I can't say how severe the problem might be, but it would certainly be a good idea to have your veterinarian examine her and see if it is something that they can diagnose and treat before it gets worse. I hope that she is okay.

July 30, 2020

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Midnight

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Domestic shorthair

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17 Years

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss
Vomiting
Increased Urination
Hyperactivity
Increased Appetite

Prior to Midnight getting diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, we noticed that her left eye is cloudy and the vet said that she has a detached retina. The vet wasn't too concerned because only one eye is affected, however, left eye has been cloudy for over a year. Does this have anything to do with her having hyperthyroidism? Could she have pituitary adenoma and is a brain scan necessary?

July 23, 2018

Midnight's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Cloudy eyes and detached retinas are usually two different problems, although I can't see Midnight or examine her. Hyperthyroidism can increase blood pressure which can cause retinal detachments, yes, but the cloudiness may be unrelated. If her blood pressure is high, she is also prone to having the other retina detach, so getting that under control would be best. If you aren't sure of her diagnosis, having her see an ophthalmologist might be a good idea.

July 23, 2018

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Missy Girl

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tabby

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13 Years

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Critical severity

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1 found helpful

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Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Clinging To The Walls And Falling

It appears that my cat has gone blind. Maybe about 3- 5 months ago. Apparently due to high blood pressure. Is it too late for surgery to repair the retinas? she is about 13 years.

July 19, 2018

Missy Girl's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

It is hard to say if Missy's vision can be repaired without seeing her, although normally surgery to repair retinas has to happen fairly quickly. It would be best to see an ophthalmologist with her, as they can see what is going on with her eyes, test her blood pressure, and see what the chances are for recovery or surgery. Most cats do adapt quite well to blindness if they stay inside where it is safe.

July 19, 2018

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Baxter

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tabby

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7 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Face
Red Discharge
Red Fleshy Bits In Eye

My cat got attacked by a dog, no bites according to the vet. But he must have been hit pretty hard, because his injuries were described as something along the lines of brute force trauma, his nose and around his eye is pretty swollen and his eye itself has some red bits that seem to be poking out. It looks awful, the vet said there was no damage to the outer layer of the eye. He's on clavamox, flubroprofen sodium ophthalmoc drops and also some tobramycin ophthalmoc solution. Do you think he may have retinal detachment? Sometimes I can still get a look at the green in his eyes but he usually doesn't open them that far. He's also got some discharge.

June 27, 2018

Baxter's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Retinal detachment may occur in cases of blunt force trauma, but without examining the eye with an ophthalmoscope I cannot rule out detachment; you should follow any instructions given to you by your Veterinarian and monitor for improvement, if there is no improvement you should return for another examination. Without examining Baxter, I cannot determine the severity of any of his injuries. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

June 28, 2018

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George

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Tuxedo

dog-age-icon

1 Year

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Eye Bulging
Eye Bulging, Inflammation, Lethargy

When my cat, George, was 5 months old, he suddenly became very lethargic and would hold his left eye shut. I took him to the vet right away, and she claimed that he had conjunctivitis and sent us home with medicated eye drops. I trusted her judgement, but her diagnosis didn’t sit right with me. After a couple of days, his eye had begun to bulge from his socket and I could tell he was in a serious amount of pain. I got an emergency appointment with a new veterinarian. After a couple hours of serious detective work and working telephonically with a specialist, they concluded he had an abscess behind his eye. They poked the abscess to allow it to drain via his mouth, sewed his eye shut, and sent us home with a stockpile of medications. I’m so fortunate this was the right move because the vet was acting mostly on a hunch. Sadly, the swelling from the injury left him with a permanently detached retina and he is completely blind in that eye, but he is still a very happy young man and doesn’t let it slow him down!

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Bella

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Tortie

dog-age-icon

12 Years

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Moderate severity

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2 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Blindness

My cat Bella is 12 and acutely went blind. Kidney levels were elevated but vet said not likely full cause of vision issues. Saw vetinary opthamologist today.....Her blood pressure was 240 and both retinas had detached! I assumed this was permanent. But he said he expects her to regain her vision with some Amlodipine and eye drops to decrease inflammation. He said the retina will "float back down" to the back of the eye and reattach. I saw another post on here from a vet saying when the retinas detach due to HTN, it is unlikely for them to reattach without surgery. Now I am confused! Any comments/feedback would be helpful!

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Eddy

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Domestic Short haired

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20 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Dilated Pupils
Blindness

I noticed on Sunday my 20 year old cat Eddy's pupils were completely fixed and dilated and he seemed to not be able to see. This happened spontaneously. Took him to vet monday for his yearly wellness check, told them I thought he couldn't see, did alot of blood work and we went home. Bloodwork showed hyperthyroidism and beginning stages of renal disease. I was still very worried about his sudden vision loss and took him back on Wednesday after reading that HTN and hyperthyroid can cause retinal detachments and vision loss. They checked his BP and eyes that time and said that I was right on target and prescribed some Amlodipine as well as thyroid medication. I just hope it's not too late for Eddy and that he can regain some of his vision. Referred us to an eye specialist but they cant see him for 2 weeks. Is that too long without seeing them?

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Marisa

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Siamese

dog-age-icon

15 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Vision Getting Worse

I found my 15year old female siamese cat with her head tilting one morning. took her to Vet. Immediately, they said it was vestibular disorder and gave an anti inflammatory injection said there was nothing they could do if It was a posable tumor. Next day took her to VCA who ran blood test for possible infection. Was negative. Referred to a neurologist who said possible stroke because of irregular heart beat . Referred to cardiologist, said nothing wrong with heart or beat, all along she was losing her sight. Took to ophthalmologist, said further blood test showed all internal normal no glaucoma and he said possible tumor caused retinal detachment. am at financial and whits end. Can anybody please advise?

Retinal Detachment Average Cost

From 329 quotes ranging from $500 - $4,000

Average Cost

$2,000

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