Eye Disease In Cat

by Lisa L.
(Austin, TX, USA)

LARGE, DILATED PUPILS   photo by Firepile

LARGE, DILATED PUPILS photo by Firepile

Cat's Eyes Dilated All The Time
Vision Impaired

My 17-year-old domestic shorthair has been showing signs of impaired vision. It finally dawned on me that her eyes are fully dilated all the time.

She is a 100% indoor cat. I have no houseplants, and for the 22 years that I've had cats, I've been adamant that chemicals like insecticides and harsh cleaners (like Lysol) not be used in the house.

Her appetite is good. She drinks plenty of water and is using her litter box.

What are the possible causes of the eye problem?

Hi, Lisa,

The most common cause of blindness in cats, especially senior kitties, is hypertension. High blood pressure occurs in cats for all the same reasons it occurs in people.

Unfortunately, at the moment, blood pressure measurement during routine exams is not common. It should be. It is easy to do, the equipment is quite inexpensive, and it can save eyes and lives.

You should take her to the vet right away. Sometimes, with treatment, the blindness is reversible. Even if it's not, you want to find out if she has hypertension. It can cause health problems other than blindness.

You need to call around and find a veterinary facility where they have the equipment to take her blood pressure. She also needs bloodwork, whether she has elevated blood pressure or not. Kidney disease and hyperthyroidism are major causes of hypertension in cats as well as some other disorders that are only going to be identified through blood evaluation.

There are other causes of blindness in cats, such as retinal degeneration, glaucoma, other genetic related conditions, trauma, viruses ... I assume you would know if she had sustained trauma to her eyes.

Given the lack of any obvious causes that you are aware of, by far the first place to search for an answer is evaluation of her blood pressure and underlying metabolic conditions that will only be revealed through blood work. Also, a complete eye exam including measurement of the pressure in her eyes is called for.

Good luck. Thank you for writing. I hope things turn out well for you and your kitty.

Dr. Neely

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