How to Treat Glaucoma in Cats
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Glaucoma in Cats
Glaucoma is an eye disease that affects cats and humans. It causes a painful increase in eye pressure and can lead to blindness.
What is glaucoma in cats?
Glaucoma is a term used to describe a group of eye diseases characterized by increased intraocular pressure, or IOP. It is a progressive condition, which means that it generally worsens over time.
The eye contains a fluid called aqueous humor. This fluid is produced in a part of the eye called the ciliary body and is drained by a structure called the iridocorneal angle. If the aqueous humor cannot flow properly, the fluid increases, and the pressure in the eye increases. A constant increase in IOP can cause serious eye damage.
Signs of glaucoma in cats
- Eye pain
- The cornea is diffuse
- Watery discharge from the eyes
- Extended student
- Elevated / enlarged eyeball
- Paw in the eyes or face
- Changes in behavior (due to vision loss; may go unnoticed at first)
- Drowsiness and/or loss of appetite due to pain.
- Rarity (due to vision loss)
Causes of glaucoma in cats
Glaucoma is classified as either primary or secondary. Secondary glaucoma is the most common form of glaucoma seen in cats. Primary glaucoma is rare in cats.
Primary glaucoma is a hereditary disease. Although rare, cats can be born with an anatomical abnormality that affects the drainage of aqueous humor in one or both eyes. Burmese and Siamese cats appear to have a genetic predisposition to the disease.
Secondary glaucoma occurs as a result of another condition and usually occurs only in one eye. Common causes of secondary glaucoma are as follows:
- Uveitis (inflammation of the eye)
- Anterior lens change (change the entire lens block drain)
- Eye trauma
- Bleeding in the eye
- Advanced cataract
- Tumor or similar or growth in the eye
Diagnosis of glaucoma in cats
It's important to take your cat to the vet if you notice any eye abnormalities or other signs of illness. Eye problems can go from bad to worse, so don't wait to see if your cat improves. Eye disorders can have several signs, so specific eye exams are needed to diagnose glaucoma in cats.
Your vet will begin by discussing the cat's history and conducting a physical exam. During the eye exam, the vet may use a special lens to examine the structures of the eye for signs of glaucoma. If glaucoma is suspected, your vet will check his IOP.
This is done through a process called tonometry. A tonometer generally looks like a pencil-shaped procedure. It is located just above the eye and measures the pressure inside the eye. If the IOP is consistently high and there are other signs of glaucoma, your vet will likely diagnose glaucoma in your cat.
In some cases, your vet may refer you to an ophthalmologist for a consultation. These eye specialists have advanced knowledge and special equipment that allows them to quickly diagnose your cat's glaucoma and recommend the most effective treatments.
Treatment of glaucoma in cats
There is no way to cause eye damage from glaucoma, so early detection is the best way to preserve vision and prevent extreme pain.
The initial treatment of glaucoma usually involves the use of eye drops to reduce intraocular pressure and inflammation. Drugs like dorzolamide and timolol lower eye pressure. Steroids can be used to reduce inflammation.
Glaucoma can be difficult to control, so expect to see your vet for regular checkups. Your vet will monitor the eye changes and adjust medications as needed.
Surgery may be recommended in cases of severe glaucoma and in those that do not respond well to medical treatment. Surgical treatment involves the use of lasers to correct aqueous humor drainage.
In the event of blindness or serious illness, your vet may advise you to remove the eye completely.
How to prevent glaucoma in cats
There is no absolute way to prevent glaucoma in cats. Since primary glaucoma is inherited, it is important not to breed cats with primary glaucoma. Secondary glaucoma can be prevented if an eye problem is found before it causes glaucoma.
This is why routine veterinary exams (once a year or more) are so important. Your vet can detect eye changes before glaucoma begins or in the early stages.
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