Blindness in Cats

Blindness in Cats

Partial or complete, blindness in cats can be confusing for the owners as they have no idea as to what should be done about it; at least most of them.
Cats have a powerful vision, which is way better than the 20/20 vision in humans. They have beautiful eyes that make them mysterious and intriguing. In fact, these eyes are the first thing that grab your attention. You are bound to get lost in these mesmerizing pools of green, blue, and yellow.

Sadly, these beautiful eyes are prone to many diseases and disorders that can lead to partial or complete blindness. It usually happens gradually over the course of time. Many cat owners are blissfully unaware of the fact that their pet is becoming blind. Blindness in cats is reversible in some cases; especially in the ones wherein the underlying cause is detected at the earliest.

Causes

There are a few causes that may lead to partial or totally loss of vision in cats. These include ...
  • Cataracts: Even cats develop cataracts in their eyes. It is a condition in which the eye lens turns opaque as a result of an eye injury, diabetes, or a genetic problem. Cataract can be treated with the help of a surgery, while lens implants can be used to correct the vision.
  • Glaucoma: A tumor, injury, or any other hereditary disease may cause fluid pressure inside the eye, which may eventually lead to glaucoma. The vet will treat glaucoma by reducing the intraocular pressure (IOP). In advanced stages, surgery maybe advised.
  • Tumors: Tumors on the eye like Iris Melanoma, tumors of the eyelid, etc., can also lead to blindness of the eyes. At times, the surgical removal of the eye may become necessary and the vet may insert a prosthesis to maintain a normal look of the eye.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy: This is most probably an inherited disease. It is a very slow acting disease in which the cats turn completely blind gradually. Because of the slow progress of the disease, the cats learn to cope with it and may learn to live without being able to see.
  • Feline Hypertension: Cats with kidney diseases and diabetes are prone to hypertension. You need to consult a vet for detection of hypertension and watch out for bloodshot eyes and unresponsive pupils. Hypertension can lead to detachment of the retina due to the overactive thyroid gland or kidney disease. There is no specific treatment for feline hypertension, but you will be advised to keep your cat on a low sodium diet.
  • Conjunctivitis: This is an infection that leads to redness of the inner eyelid. Though conjunctivitis does not lead to blindness, recurring infection can lead to vision deterioration. The vet may administer medication in the form of eye drops or oral drugs, depending on whether the infection is bacterial or viral.
There are other causes that include ...
  • Injury
  • Degeneration of retina
  • Dry eye due to feline herpes virus
  • Neoplasia that involves occipital cortex
  • Hypoxia that results in permanent brain injury
  • Congenital underdevelopment of the optic nerves
  • Encephalitis and meningoencephalitis
  • Chorioretinitis
It is very important to carry out proper diagnosis as the treatment will be largely based on it. Many times blindness is a result of underlying disorders or diseases that have a major effect on cat health. Sudden blindness is due to hypertension, thyroid disorders, kidney diseases, blood glucose disorders, etc. At times, the use of baytril to treat infections may also lead to sudden blindness in these felines.

Signs

There are certain signs that should alert a cat owner about the impending disaster, so as to help him seek immediate medical intervention. These include ...
  • Bumping into furniture and other things frequently.
  • Experiencing difficulty coordinating its limbs, thus becoming clumsy.
  • Affected eye becoming cloudy, or the pupil remaining dilated even in bright light.
  • Not being able to find its food or water tray.
  • Sleeping a lot and becoming less attentive.
  • Getting frightened or getting startled easily.
  • Stops playing or no longer carries out its hunting behavior.
Diagnosis

The vet will carry out a complete physical examination of the cat. The cat may be subjected to one of the several ophthalmic tests, like direct and indirect ophthalmoscopy, pupillary light reflex testing, tonometry, Schirmer tear testing, navigation of the pet through an obstacle course, fluorescein staining of the cornea, etc. As the treatment of feline blindness is based on the diagnosis, acute diagnosis becomes necessary.

Care

It is insensitive to look at a cat that has lost its vision as a liability. Sadly, most of the people think so, and choose to abandon it rather than subjecting it to proper care. With a little help from you, the cat will be able to adapt itself to its surroundings. Cats are able to use their other senses to compensate for the loss of one. As an owner, you need to ensure that your cat does not go outside the house or in other such unfamiliar surroundings. Getting a collar for your cat, with proper name, disability, and address inscribed on it, will be a good idea.

Allow your cat to walk around the house on its own. They have scent glands on their paws that help them leave a trail of scent that can be followed. You should avoid carrying the cat in the house, as that will make it dependent on you. You should ideally restrict the cats movement near hot tubs, swimming pools, balconies, staircases, etc., as these places are not safe for a cat that has lost its vision. When you approach your cat, speak to him as you come near. This will avoid startling and frightening it. Play with your cat with toys that make sound. Avoid moving the furniture, litter box, food tray around until necessary. Cats leave their scent marks around, and sudden changes may leave a blind cat disoriented.

Blindness is a disorder that may make you and your cat feel helpless. But cats have a strong will to get over this condition. As an owner you need to provide the cat with a little support, attention, and care. A disabled cat is still your cat, and you need to take care of it the way you did when it was normal.
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