When it comes to our furry friends, their well-being is of utmost importance. One area that requires special attention is their precious eyes. Just like humans, cats can sustain eye injuries that may require immediate care. In this article, we will explore the different types of eye injuries in cats, their causes, and the necessary steps for treatment and prevention.
Corneal and Scleral Lacerations in Cats
In medical terms, a penetrating injury refers to a wound or foreign object that enters the eye but doesn’t completely pass through the cornea or sclera. On the other hand, a perforating injury occurs when a wound or foreign body fully traverses the cornea or sclera, posing a higher risk to vision. The cornea, which is the transparent outer layer at the front of the eye, and the sclera, the white part, play crucial roles in protecting the eyeball.
In medical lingo, a simple injury entails damage only to the cornea or sclera, either penetrating or perforating. Other eye structures remain unharmed. However, a complicated injury involves the perforation of the eye and affects additional eye structures. This type of injury can impact one or multiple parts of the eye, including the middle layer of the eyeball, which contains blood vessels, the iris, and the choroid, located between the sclera and the retina. Complicated injuries may also lead to lens trauma, cataracts, or eyelid lacerations.
Symptoms and Types
Identifying eye injuries in cats can be challenging, but it’s crucial to pay attention to any sudden changes in behavior. Symptoms of an eye injury in cats may include pawing at the eye, rapid blinking, swelling, inflammation, and the following indicators:
- Blood in the eye or a blood-filled mass resulting from a sealed laceration
- Visible foreign object in the eye
- Distorted pupil shape or abnormal reaction
- Clouded cornea (cataract)
- Protruding eye
Understanding the causes of eye injuries can help prevent them. Here are some common scenarios that may lead to eye injuries in cats:
- Running through dense vegetation
- Exposure to rapid projectiles like fireworks or gunshots
- Pre-existing visual impairment or structural eye deformities
- Inexperienced or highly energetic animals lacking caution
- Fights with other animals, especially cats that tend to scratch at faces
If you suspect an eye injury in your cat, a visit to the veterinarian is crucial. They will examine the eye, determine the presence of any foreign objects, and evaluate the impact. The veterinarian will assess the cat’s visual response to stimuli and aversion to bright light. The size, shape, symmetry, and light reflexes of the pupils will also be examined. If no foreign object is found, the veterinarian will consider corneal ulcers or other naturally occurring causes before investigating possible internal eye traumas.
Treatment options for eye injuries in cats depend on the severity and location of the injury. Non-perforating wounds without any opening or wound edge may require Elizabethan collars to prevent scratching and the application of antibiotic or atropine eye solutions. Mildly broken tissue or pinpoint wound perforations may be treated with a soft contact lens, an Elizabethan collar, and appropriate solutions.
For more severe injuries, surgical exploration or repair may be necessary in cases such as:
- Full-thickness corneal lacerations
- Full-thickness wounds involving the iris
- Full-thickness scleral or corneoscleral lacerations
- Retained foreign objects or posterior scleral ruptures
- Nonperforating wounds with broken edges that are long or more than two-thirds the corneal thickness
It’s important to note that the prognosis for retained vision depends on various factors. While lacerated corneas or foreign objects are generally salvageable, injuries to the outer membrane of the eyeball (sclera) or the fluid part (vitreous) may pose challenges. Prognosis is usually better for penetrating injuries compared to perforating injuries, and sharp traumas have a higher prognosis than blunt traumas.
Under most circumstances, veterinarians will prescribe appropriate medications, including antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, and pain relievers based on the severity of the eye injury.
Living and Management
Proper post-treatment care and regular check-ups are essential for your cat’s recovery. Deep or wide penetrating wounds that haven’t been sutured will require rechecking every 24 to 48 hours for the initial few days. Superficial penetrating wounds, however, can be rechecked every three to five days until they are fully healed.
To prevent eye injuries, it’s crucial to introduce new pets carefully, especially if you already have a cat. Avoid aggressive behavior between cats, as unintentional injuries can occur. Additionally, discourage your cat from running through dense vegetation. If you’re in an area prone to debris, such as woods or beaches, consider having a bottle of saline eyewash to flush out any foreign objects.
Remember, your furry friend’s eyes deserve the best care. By being vigilant and taking necessary precautions, you can help prevent and address eye injuries in cats effectively.