If you’ve noticed a change in your cat’s eye color or if their eyesight appears to be impaired, you can suspect cataracts as the cause.
Cataracts are sometimes viewed as a condition that only affects the eyes of seniors, but this is not the case in cats. In fact, age is generally not the main factor in cats developing them, and cataracts are less common in cats than in dogs.
You should always take your cat to the vet if you notice abnormalities in your eyes. Here’s what you should know about cataracts in cats.
What are cataracts?
Cataracts are opacities in one or both of a cat’s eyes that cause the lens to lose transparency. This can result in partial or total clouding of the lens, which prevents light from reaching the retina.
Eyesight can be compromised or completely lost as a result of this process.
Cataracts are easy to confuse with nuclear sclerosis, a normal change in eye color in older cats over the age of seven. This change can make the lens appear white, but it does not affect vision.
If you notice a worrying change in eye color, your veterinarian can determine if it is nuclear sclerosis.
Symptoms of cataract in cats
If you think your cat is developing cataracts, these are the signs you should look for:
- A blue, gray, or white layer in one or both eyes
- Changes in the color of the eyes or the size and shape of the pupils
- Watery eyes
- Clumsiness or unusual walking habits
- Sudden reluctance to jump on furniture or climb stairs
- Problems recognizing people you know
- Difficulty judging distance
- Impaired vision in dark or dimly lit areas
Causes of cataract in cats
There are many things that can cause a cat to develop cataracts.
Inheritance is an important factor. Certain breeds of cats are predisposed, including the Persian, Burma, Himalayan, and Domestic Shorthair. If your cat is one of these breeds, frequently check their eyes for changes and consult a veterinarian or eye doctor if you see signs of cataracts.
Most often, cats develop them as a result of eye infection, which can result from injury or infection.
Cats with diabetes mellitus can develop cataracts, although you would likely notice other symptoms such as increased thirst, frequent urination, and weight loss.
Cats with abnormally low blood calcium, a condition known as hypocalcemia, can also develop cataracts.
Age also plays a role, though not as much as inheritance or inflammation from eye injuries or infections. Older cats are more likely to develop cataracts. Poor diet as a kitten can also lead to cataracts later in life.
Less common causes include electric shock or exposure to toxic substances such as dinitrophenol or naphthalene.
Treatments and prevention of cataracts in cats
Treatment for cat starring depends on the cause. The aim of treatment is often not to restore eyesight, but to avoid secondary problems such as uveitis, glaucoma and retinal detachment.
The only way to completely remove them is through surgery; However, there are other options that can prevent it from deteriorating.
Eye drops to help prevent inflammation and secondary complications may be prescribed by your veterinarian. If the cataracts are the result of a lack of food, your veterinarian can talk to you about adjusting your cat’s diet to make up for it.
There are different types of surgery to remove cataracts.
Phacoemulsification is a process in which the lens of the eye is liquefied using ultrasonic waves and liquids are replaced with a balanced salt solution. It has been shown to have a 90 percent success rate in cats. An intraocular lens can be implanted during the operation to prevent farsightedness.
Other forms of surgery include extracapsular lens extraction and intracapsular lens extraction.
Prevention is the best medicine
The best option is to prevent cataracts by reducing exposure to the causes of the condition. Routine eye exams by your veterinarian can often spot problems before they get worse. Keeping up on vaccinations can help prevent viral infections that affect the lens of the eye.
Maintaining an adequate diet from kitten age and avoiding exposure to toxic substances also help prevent cataracts from developing.
Since many cataracts form as a result of eye injuries, it also helps prevent your cat from fighting other cats or getting into situations where eye injury is possible.
Go without treatment
Many parents of cats choose not to treat cataracts because cats adapt well to impaired vision or blindness and rely on their other senses to function. You should discuss this option with your veterinarian.
Sometimes your vet still wants to treat secondary complications. Certain cats are also not healthy enough to have surgery. If so, there are still treatment options that can make your cat more comfortable. Discuss these options with an ophthalmologist before making a decision.
Has your cat developed cataracts before? How did you go about the treatment? Let us know in the comments below!