If you have a feline friend, you may have heard of a condition called entropion. But what exactly is it? Entropion is a condition where the upper or lower eyelids of a cat roll inward, causing friction with the surface of the eye. This can lead to pain, inflammation, and various eye complications. In this article, we will delve into the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options for entropion in cats.
Understanding Entropion in Cats
Entropion primarily affects the lower eyelid and is more common in certain breeds, such as Himalayan and Persian cats. The abnormal inward rolling of the eyelid can introduce hair onto the cornea and conjunctiva, resulting in scratches, ulcers, inflammation, and discharge. It can be an uncomfortable and painful condition for your furry friend.
Symptoms of Entropion in Cats
The symptoms of entropion in cats can vary depending on the severity of the condition. Some common signs to watch out for include:
- Eye discharge
- Rubbing the eye
- Nasal discharge
- Swollen eyelids
- Red eyes
- Eyelid spasms
- Raised third eyelid
- Cloudy cornea and ulceration
Causes of Entropion in Cats
There are three main causes of entropion in cats, namely congenital, anatomical/developmental, and acquired entropion.
Congenital entropion is present from birth and is usually noticed around two weeks of age when the eyes open for the first time. Although relatively uncommon, it can still affect some cats.
Anatomical or developmental entropion is more prevalent in brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds like Himalayans and Persians. The shallow eye socket in these breeds can cause the eyelid to invert due to the increased bulging of the eyes. Additionally, cats with a special hyper-elastic connective tissue condition called Ehlers-Danlos may also develop anatomical entropion.
Acquired entropion can be classified into three types: spastic, cicatricial, and involutional entropion.
- Spastic entropion is the most common type and is usually caused by other painful eye conditions, such as corneal ulcers or dry eye, which result in involuntary muscle spasms and inward rolling of the eyelid.
- Cicatricial entropion occurs when the eyelid is damaged or swollen, leading to abnormal rubbing of the eye.
- Involutional entropion primarily affects senior cats and involves the loss of the fat pad behind the eye, which causes the eye to sink inward and allows the lid to roll.
Diagnosing Entropion in Cats
Diagnosing entropion in cats is usually straightforward when eyelid hairs are visibly rubbing against the eye. However, in some cases, it can be more challenging. Veterinarians may employ various tests to identify entropion and other eye issues, including:
- Topical anesthetics: These can temporarily relieve pain and enable the veterinarian to observe the eyelid’s normal position.
- Fluorescein stain test: This test helps identify corneal ulcers by making them glow under a black light.
- Intraocular pressure test: It determines if there is inflammation or glaucoma as a cause or effect of entropion.
- Schirmer tear test: This test measures tear production, which may be related to the pain and irritation causing entropion.
Treating Entropion in Cats
The treatment for entropion in cats depends on the underlying cause of the condition. In cases of spastic entropion, addressing the primary ocular disease is crucial. Treatment options for conjunctivitis, a common issue associated with spastic entropion, may include antibiotics, pain medication, artificial tears, and antiviral medication. In some instances, temporary procedures like tacking may be necessary to prevent the eyelid from rolling onto the eye during the healing process.
Surgical correction is often required for certain cases of entropion and has a high success rate. During the procedure, a veterinarian surgically removes a small piece of skin and fur near the eyelid margin, allowing the eyelid to flip down to its normal position. While general practitioners can perform this surgery, it is recommended to consult a veterinary ophthalmologist for more complex cases.
Cost of Entropion Surgery for Cats
The cost of entropion surgery can vary depending on factors such as the veterinarian’s location, experience, and whether one or both eyes are affected. On average, the surgery may cost less than $1,000. However, more complicated cases or procedures performed by veterinary ophthalmologists may be higher.
Hyaluronic Acid Injection
In some instances, veterinarians may opt for Hyaluronic Acid (HA) injections as an alternative to surgery, especially for older cats that may not tolerate anesthesia well. HA injections help turn the eyelid outward, and while they are safer than surgery, they have a lower success rate and may require additional follow-up treatments.
Recovery and Management of Entropion in Cats
Cats generally recover well from entropion, especially after surgical correction. Follow-up appointments are essential, typically within 10-14 days after surgery, to remove sutures and monitor the healing process. During this time, your cat may need to wear an Elizabethan collar to prevent them from hurting the eye or incision. Topical eye medications, as well as oral pain medication and anti-inflammatory drugs, may be prescribed to aid in recovery.
If you notice any concerning signs, such as pus-like discharge, redness, swelling, squinting, cloudiness, or decreased appetite, after surgery, it is important to contact your veterinarian promptly. Some cats may require long-term medication to manage corneal scarring and conjunctivitis even after the successful correction of entropion. Products like Optixcare (eye lube plus) can help soothe and moisturize the eyes, ensuring long-term comfort and health.
Remember, early intervention is vital for the best chance of success and restoring normal eye function in cats with entropion.