Cat Health: Eyes
Many years ago, a kitten very dear to my heart experienced some scary kitten health problems. During that time, I learned a lot about cat symptoms of eye disease and have continued to have a great interest in the subject ever since.
While it is true that blind cats can learn to get around very well and live comfortable lives, I'm sure you would prefer to avoid blindness developing if at all possible. In many, many cases of blindness in cats that I have seen, it was possible to avoid loss of vision if only the cat had received veterinary attention earlier.
Other than just the fact of retaining vision, another reason to be alert to changes in your cat's eyes is because problems in the eyes can reflect cat illnesses elsewhere in the body. In other words, certain eye conditions in cats are a clue that a more general problem with your cat's health exists and needs to be addressed. For example, feline conjunctivitis may be a condition of the eyes only, but when accompanied by another disorder called anterior uveitis, it can indicate a more generalized illness such as feline leukemia or feline infectious peritonitis.
Assessing the Health of Your Cat's Eyes
It is not difficult to learn what good cat health, eyes included, looks like. Take a close look at the following image.
What do I see in the photo?
(1) Wide, open eyes that appear similar in size
(2) No obvious redness anywhere
(3) the colored part of the eye, the iris, which is green in this photo, is uniform in color, doesn't have any discoloration, any brown splotches, and is clear and easy to see
(4) the black center, the pupil, is the same size in both eyes and is not so large that it fills the entire eye and doesn't allow you to see the color. (It can be normal to have large dilated pupils, but only in very low light or when taking certain medications, or if extremely fearful).
(5) the outermost surface of the eye, the cornea, is clear - so clear, you're looking right through it like a freshly cleaned window, and you can see all the structures mentioned above without anything getting in the way. A healthy cornea is one you don't really notice - it's not cloudy, it doesn't have blood vessels running across it - it's truly just a very clear window you're looking through to see the iris and pupil.
(6) The third eyelids are not visible in the inner corners of the eyes. If they were, you would see a whitish membrane covering part of the eye that comes up from those inner lower corners toward the nose.
(7)You don't see any discharge, any fluid, coming from either eye.
Again, the cat eyes seen above are very healthy and normal.
If you said, he's squinting, the eyes are not big and round, you would be correct. Is it a problem? If he's just sleepy or just had a bright light pointed in his direction, then probably not. If the eyes remain that way more than a minute or so, then possibly yes.
If you said it is abnormal, you are correct. The third eyelid is protruding. That is the white membrane you see coming from the inner lower corner of the eye near the nose and extending over close to half of the eye.
Ok, I just threw that one in to see if you were paying attention. Yes, the eyes are perfectly normal. Very healthy. So take a look again at those eyes. Big, round, clear, equal in size, equally sized pupils (black centers), no redness or discharge, no third eyelid protruding, colorful irises, uniformly colored.....all normal and healthy.
Again, there are so many different feline diseases that affect the health of cat's eyes. Some are secondary to another problem elsewhere in the cat's body while others involve a problem just in your cat's eyes. For this reason, it is of utmost importance that anytime you think your cat's eyes aren't normal, go straight to your veterinarian. Time is of the essence when it comes to your cat's eyes.
FELINE EYE PROBLEMS"
Also, on this page further down, you will find questions I have received about eye conditions in cats. You will find a great deal of information there about various feline eye conditions.