Ocular or eye discharge is quite common in both dogs and cats. A small amount of watery and clear eye discharge in cats is however, not an alarming condition. In fact, this small amount of watery discharge helps remove harmful foreign substances from the eyes. Generally, such clear or mucus-like discharge can be observed in the corner of the eyes in the morning. But if the discharge is not clear, but cloudy, pus-like, or bloody, and the eyes are also not clear, then it can indicate some serious health conditions that may warrant immediate medical attention.
Eye Discharge in Cats
A clear and watery eye discharge and sneezing can indicate allergies and upper respiratory infections. Allergies can also cause redness of the eyes. A clear discharge can also be produced when the tear drainage system gets blocked. Generally, an obstruction of the tear drainage system does not cause redness of the eyes. So, if the eyes are red along with a clear, watery discharge, then it can be a sign of conjunctivitis or inflammation of the conjunctiva. Conjunctivitis or pink eye can be caused by viral, bacterial, or fungal eye infections.
Sometimes, conjunctivitis can also cause pus-like or sticky discharge, just like mucus, especially if the infection is caused by the bacteria, Chlamydophila. Apart from conjunctivitis and allergies, eye discharge can be an indicator of keratitis or corneal inflammation, corneal ulcers, glaucoma, dry eye syndrome or keratoconjunctivitis sicca, inflammation of the eyelids, and any kind of physical trauma or injury to the eyes. Even cats with a defect or abnormality in their eyelids can experience this condition. The condition, known as entropion, where the edges of the eyelids turn inward, is often found to irritate the eyes and cause watery eye discharge.
Some specific diagnostic tests are required to determine the underlying causes of eye discharge. A complete examination of the eyes are very important to determine the exact causes of ocular discharge. Other diagnostic tests employed for this condition are, Schirmer tear test, culture of the eye discharge, tonometry, complete blood count test, X-rays of the skull and the tear drainage system, MRI or magnetic resonance imaging, and CT scan or computer tomography.
The entire course of treatment depends on the proper diagnosis of the condition. Each specific cause will require different treatment options. For example, if eye discharge is a symptom of an allergy, then it can be treated with hydrocotisone medications. Bacterial infections of the eye on the other hand, can be treated with antibiotic medications and ointments. But if the infection is caused by fungus, then antifungal medications like fluconazole, voriconazole, or triazole can be required for its treatment.
Any kind of cat eye problem needs to be immediately evaluated by an expert veterinarian, rather than adopting a policy of 'wait and watch'. Some eye problems, especially an infection of the inner part of the eye can lead to temporary and permanent blindness in cats. So, if you observe abnormal ocular discharge, be sure to consult a veterinarian. Many times, this condition is also accompanied by symptoms like redness of the eyes or cloudy eyes, eye inflammation and pain, and increased sensitivity to light. The presence of such symptoms can indicate a serious condition, which should be addressed at the earliest.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of a veterinarian.