Entropion is a condition that affects cats, where the margin of the eyelid rolls inward, causing the eyelashes and fur to rub on the surface of the eye. It can occur at any age, but it is most commonly seen in kittens and elderly cats. In this article, we will explore the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for entropion in cats.
What Is Entropion in Cats?
Entropion occurs when the edge of the eyelid rolls inward towards the surface of the eye. This can cause irritation to the eye membranes or damage to the cornea. While entropion can develop in either the upper or lower eyelid, it is most common in the lower lid of cats. It can affect cats of any age, but it is more prevalent in kittens and elderly cats.
Causes of Entropion in Cats
In young cats, entropion is often caused by chronic squinting due to eye infections, which is known as “spastic entropion.” Kittens are more susceptible to eye infections caused by viruses and bacteria, leading to conditions like conjunctivitis and corneal ulcers. The intense squinting from the eye pain eventually causes the eyelid edge to flip inward, resulting in entropion. This condition can worsen due to the rubbing fur, creating a cycle of pain and further damage.
Eye Sinkage Due to Age
In elderly cats, entropion commonly develops due to the eye sinking deeper into the eye socket. As cats age, they lose fat and muscle from behind their eyes, resulting in a sunken appearance. The sunken eyelids eventually flip inward, leading to entropion. The irritation caused by the fur rubbing against the eyelids can cause more squinting and worsen the condition over time.
Certain cat breeds, such as Persians, Himalayans, and Burmese, have short noses and bulgy eyes, which can contribute to entropion. The facial conformation of these breeds causes crowding below the eyes, pushing the lower eyelids towards the eyes and resulting in the inversion of the eyelid margin. Moreover, young, un-neutered male cats of larger breeds like Maine Coons may experience entropion due to their large jowls, which can push the lower eyelids upwards.
Is Entropion Hereditary?
Entropion can be hereditary in certain breeds, such as Persians, Himalayans, and Burmese, where it is caused by breed-related facial features. This is known as primary entropion, as it is related to the breed’s characteristics and not caused by other eye problems.
Symptoms of Entropion in Cats
Entropion causes fur to rub on the eye surface, leading to irritation and ocular pain. Common symptoms of entropion include squinting, a sunken appearance to the eye, a raised third eyelid, pawing at the eye, increased tearing or mucoid eye discharge, red and puffy eye membranes, and haze or cloudiness in the cornea if a corneal ulcer is present. It’s important to have your cat examined by a veterinarian if any of these symptoms occur, as they can be indicative of various eye diseases.
Treatment of Entropion in Cats
Most often, entropion in cats is treated with eyelid surgery. This typically involves removing a small wedge or “smile-shaped” piece of fur and skin from below the abnormal eyelid margin. By stitching this area closed, the eyelid margin is pulled away from the eye, flipping it back into its normal position. Entropion surgery in cats has a high success rate. However, in certain cases, your vet may suggest delaying surgery, especially for young, larger breed, male cats who may grow out of the condition.
Eyelid Filler Injections
Recent advancements have seen veterinary ophthalmologists using hyaluronic acid eyelid filler injections to treat entropion in elderly cats. This non-surgical technique is appealing as it is usually performed without anesthesia, making it less expensive and less risky for older cats. However, the outcome is harder to predict and control compared to traditional surgical correction.
In cats with entropion, antibiotic eye medications are often prescribed to prevent bacterial infections, especially if there is a corneal ulcer. Pain medications may also be recommended, although it’s important to note that there are no pain-relieving eye drops for cats. Pain medications are administered orally.
How Much Does Entropion Surgery Cost for Cats?
The cost of entropion surgery varies depending on factors such as geographic location, whether the surgery is performed by a general practice vet or a board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist, the need for surgery in one eye or both eyes, and the complexity of the surgery. Generally, routine entropion surgery for one eye performed by a general practice vet can range from a few hundred dollars to $1,000. Surgery performed by a board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist may cost upwards of $2,000 or more, especially for severe cases that require extensive reconstructive techniques. The cost should include anesthesia, post-operative medications, and sometimes the initial post-operative recheck exam.
Entropion in Cats Recovery
After entropion surgery, it is normal for your cat to have a small incision on the eyelid skin with stitches. Mild swelling and redness around the incision are expected for a few days, during which your cat will need to wear a hard, plastic Elizabethan collar to prevent any contact or rubbing against the incision or eyeball. Your vet will provide specific guidelines regarding the collar. Additionally, your cat will require eye medications for approximately 1-2 weeks post-surgery, usually administered 2-3 times daily. Medications for pain and inflammation may also be prescribed for a few days.
It’s important to closely monitor the incision and eye for signs of infection, which include excessive swelling or redness, pus-like discharge, worsening squinting or redness and puffiness to the eye membranes, and haze or cloudiness on the cornea.
To prevent entropion resulting from chronic squinting, it is essential to treat eye infections promptly and have your cat re-evaluated if the squinting persists after treatment. While entropion due to sunken eyes in elderly cats cannot be prevented, studies suggest that both eyes should undergo surgery, even if only one eye is affected. Performing eyelid shortening surgery on the eye without entropion can prevent the condition from developing later on.
Entropion in cats is a painful condition that can lead to eye surface damage due to the inward rolling of the eyelids. It is most commonly seen in kittens with eye infections and chronic squinting, as well as in elderly cats with sunken eyes caused by weight loss and muscle loss. The treatment for entropion often involves eye medications to prevent infections and corneal ulcers, combined with entropion surgery. If you notice any symptoms of entropion in your cat, it’s crucial to consult with a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.
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