Uveitis is a painful eye disease that can occur in cats. There can be several causes of this condition but it should never be ignored. Uveitis can progress to permanent blindness if left untreated, so knowing how to recognize the signs can help keep your cat comfortable and fully sighted.What Is Uveitis in Cats?
Uveitis occurs when the uvea, a part of a cat's eye, becomes inflamed. The uvea actually consists of three parts of the eye: the iris, the choroid, and the ciliary body. Any or all of these parts of the uvea may become inflamed with uveitis. The iris is the part of the eye that gives your cat its eye color, the ciliary body lines the wall of the eyeball and produces the fluid inside it, and the choroid is the middle layer of the eye. The different parts of the uvea also play other roles within the eye and are important for maintaining eye pressure, vision, the shape of the eye, and more. Depending on what part or parts of the uvea are inflamed, uveitis can be classified in three different ways and may occur in one or both eyes.Anterior Uveitis - only the ciliary body and iris are inflamed.Posterior Uveitis - only the choroid is inflamed.Panuveitis/True Uveitis - The ciliary body, iris, and choroid are all inflamed. Signs of Uveitis in Cats Pawing at one or both eyesKeeping one or both eyes shutNot wanting to be pet on the headSquinting one or both eyesRepeated blinking of one or both eyesAvoidance of bright lightRedness of the eyeEye dischargeCloudiness of the eyeBumping into things
Cats with uveitis are usually in a lot of pain and will be pawing at the affected eye. They commonly hold the painful eye or eyes shut and may squint or blink repeatedly. Avoidance of bright lights is not uncommon and your cat may show aggression or reluctance when you attempt to pet it on its head.
If you are able to get a look at your cat's eye, there may be inflammation in or around the eye and it may appear cloudy or even bloody. Additionally, sometimes clear, white, or purulent discharge may be seen in the corner of the eye in a cat with uveitis. If left untreated, blindness can occur and your cat may start bumping into things in your home.Causes of Uveitis
There are numerous reasons why a cat may develop uveitis. Common causes of uveitis in cats include:Viral, bacterial, parasitic, and fungal infectionsDiabetes and other metabolic diseasesHigh blood pressureToxins coming into contact with the eyeImmune mediated diseaseEye traumaEye tumors Diagnosing Uveitis in Cats
If you suspect your cat has uveitis or another eye issue, your veterinarian will need to perform a full physical examination. A thorough eye examination may include using special lights, magnifying glasses, eye drops, and other devices to assess your cat's eye pressure and function. A cat with uveitis will have an eye pressure of less than 10 mm HG and associated clinical signs. In order to find out what is causing the uveitis and to treat the underlying disease, other tests will need to be performed. Various blood and urine tests, X-rays, ultrasounds, a cytology and even a biopsy may be recommended depending on what your veterinarian suspects. Your regular veterinarian may even refer your cat to a veterinary ophthalmologist for further examination and diagnostic testing depending on the cause and severity of the uveitis.Treatment
The treatment of uveitis will vary depending on the underlying reason for it but regardless of the cause, the inflammation and pain in the eye should be addressed. Eye drops and various oral medications may be used to help relieve the discomfort your cat is experiencing, decrease the inflammation in the eye, and treat or prevent infection. If therapy to relieve the pain in your cat's eyes fails, removal of the affected eye or eyes may be necessary.How to Prevent Uveitis
While some causes of uveitis are difficult, if not impossible, to prevent, there are some things you can do to decrease the likelihood of it occurring in your cat. Infections should be treated promptly, diabetes and high blood pressure should be well-controlled, and care should be taken to avoid damaging your cat's eyes or exposing them to potential toxins. Finally, regular veterinary examinations can help detect small problems before they become big issues.
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