Keeping Your animals Healthy and Happy Without Overspending
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Keeping Your animals Healthy and Happy Without Overspending

Hello, my name is Catherine. I have long loved animals and have had several of my own over the years. Sadly, I saw two of my cats suffer with feline cancer, one of my dogs had arthritis, and, of course, we faced the usual calamities and injuries pets often face. However, I have had to navigate this on a relatively restricted budget, and through the years, I have gotten quite proficient at that. I work at a library and love doing research on pets and veterinary care as well as a range of other topics. I also love to write so decided to put my info in a blog. Please, explore and enjoy!

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Keeping Your animals Healthy and Happy Without Overspending

'Dry Eye' - A Painful and Potentially Vision-Threatening Problem For Your Cat

Ellen Lampi

Dry eye (keratoconjunctivitis sicca) is a painful and potentially vision-threatening condition in cats.  But what causes the problem, what signs should you watch out for, and how is the condition treated?

Dry eye (keratoconjunctivitis)

Dry eye is a condition where the cat's eye does not produce tears.  This lack of lubrication in the eye can lead to inflammation of the cornea and eventually, if the condition is left untreated, blindness.  Chronic dry eye leaves the cat with a sticky, yellow discharge oozing from the affected eye, which in the summer months can attract flies, making the cat vulnerable to infections.

Signs of trouble

You can spot signs of potential trouble in your cat's eyes by watching out for the following symptoms.

  • your cat pawing at his eyes
  • squinting or blinking repeatedly
  • red eyes
  • the emergence of the third eyelid (a white membrane that may swell so that it obscures part of the cat's eye)
  • sticky discharge from the affected eye
  • the appearance of a film over the cat's eye

If your cat exhibits any of the above symptoms, seek advice from your local vet clinic immediately.

You can make your cat more comfortable while you wait for the veterinary appointment by bathing the affected eye.  To do this, take a clean cotton wool ball and dip it in warm water.  Squeeze out the excess water and very gently wipe away any goo, working from the corner of the eye outwards so that you don't push the gunge back into the eye.  Use a clean cotton wool ball for each eye and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.

Causes of dry eye

There are a number of causes of dry eye, which is why it's imperative that you seek veterinary advice quickly; the condition could be symptomatic of a serious, underlying disease.  Causes of dry eye include

  • feline herpes virus
  • neurological disorders
  • damage to the tear ducts following trauma
  • damage to the nerves in the cat's face following trauma

Diagnosis and treatment

In order to treat your cat's dry eye, the vet will need to establish what is causing the problem.  A thorough examination will be performed, together with a Schirmer tear test that is used to establish the quantity of tears produced by each eye.  If corneal ulcers are suspected, fluorescein staining of each eye will be carried out.  This involves a small quantity of fluorescent dye being dropped into the eyes to highlight any abnormalities.  Neither of these procedures is painful for your pet and anaesthesia is not generally required.

In addition to treating the underlying cause of the dry eye, your vet will prescribe an artificial tear solution and/or ointment to be applied daily.  This will give your cat relief from the discomfort of the condition and will keep his eyes moist. 

To apply the drops or ointment, gently tip your cat's head back slightly and carefully prise his eyelids open with your fingers.  Place the drops into the centre of the eye, and then gently push the eyelids closed again to help disperse the drops across the surface of the eye.  You may find this procedure easier if you have an extra pair of hands to help you, especially if your cat is a wriggler!

In conclusion

Dry eye is a very unpleasant condition that can affect cats for a number of different reasons.  If you notice that your cat is showing any of the aforementioned signs of eye problems, always seek veterinary advice immediately.  


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