Cats can also get eye infections, and feline eye infections can be considered one of the common eye problems in cats. It can be caused by infectious agents, like bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Even an injury or trauma to the eye tissues can cause an infection at times. Eye infections can produce a number of uncomfortable symptoms, like redness and inflammation, eye discharge, itching, and pain.
As mentioned already, eye infections can be caused by bacteria, viruses, and fungi. One of the common eye problems in pets are pink eye. Pink eye is also known as conjunctivitis, which causes the inflammation of the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is the membrane that covers the eyeball and the undersurface of the eyelid.
Pink eye or conjunctivitis causes the conjunctiva to appear red or pink in color. Pink eye can be caused by allergens, bacteria, and viruses. The bacterium that usually causes this infection in cats is chlamydia. The viruses that can cause feline eye infections are, calicivirus and herpes virus.
Herpes eye infections are very common in cats, and these infections are usually caused by the feline herpes virus 1. Eye infections caused by fungi are rare. Cats with an weakened immune system are more likely to contract fungal eye infections. Apart from these, allergies and an injury to the cornea can also cause feline eye infections at times.
The most common symptoms of this infection are:
- Inflammation of the conjunctiva and the cornea
- Redness of the eye or conjunctiva
- Inability to blink the eye
- Eye discharge, which can be watery or thick, and yellow or greenish in color
- Excessive tearing
- Eyelids sticking together
- Development of sores or ulcers in the cornea
- Sneezing and nasal congestion
- Itching, which compels the cat to paw or rub her eyes frequently
- Eyeballs stuck to the eyelid
The consistency of the discharge can help identify eye infections caused by allergens from the infections caused by bacteria and other infectious agents. Clear and watery eye discharge indicates an eye infection caused by allergies, while thick and yellow or greenish-yellow discharge is usually associated with a bacterial or fungal eye infection. Fungal infections can produce symptoms that can be a bit different from the symptoms of other feline eye infections. These symptoms include:
- Dilated eyes
- Pupils not responding to light
- Inflamed retina
- Peripheral blindness
- Changes in behavior
The treatment of this condition depends on the causative agent, as well as the severity of the infection. If the infection is caused by bacteria, then veterinarians can recommend antibiotic eye drops and ointments. A severe bacterial infection can however, require oral antibiotics, along with topical antibiotic preparations.
On the other hand, topical antiviral medications are employed for treating an infection caused by viruses. These medications are usually used when the infection affects the cornea. For fungal eye infections, veterinarians may prescribe fungicidal ointments or solutions. Anti-inflammatory medications are used for treating pink eye or conjunctivitis caused by allergies, if the infection causes the development of corneal ulcers.
A warm compress is one of the most frequently used home remedies for reducing eye irritation. To wipe away the discharge and crusts, you can use a wet warm cloth or towel. However, be sure to discard the used cloth or towel after every cleaning session.
Some other home remedies for eye infections are, chamomile, calendula, and eyebright. But pet owners should better confirm with a veterinarian before using these herbs. With proper treatment and care, the infection can resolve within a few weeks. Therefore, on observing any symptoms of eye infections, pet owners should get the condition evaluated with the help of a veterinarian.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of a veterinarian.