Cat Eye Health

Cat eye health is an important consideration when keeping your feline in optimal shape. A cat's eyes have characteristics which differ from eyes of other species. Learning about these differences, and how certain infections or diseases can affect cat eye health, will be of great benefit.

Cornea Is Very Prone to Infection

A cat's cornea is the outer part of the eye that is clear of color. The cornea does not have its own vessels, so it relies on tear production to stay healthy. The cornea is very prone to infection. Diseases of the cornea include keratitis, or corneal inflammation, corneal ulcers and uveitis, or intraocular inflammation.

Yellowness of Sclera May Indicate Jaundice

The white part of the outer cat eye is called the sclera. Injury to the sclera is uncommon due to its strength. Occasionally, blood vessels become irritated and may burst, causing redness. Bruises to the sclera may indicate clotting issues or local injury. Yellowness of the sclera may indicate jaundice.

Conjunctiva Should Resemble Gums in Color

The conjunctiva is pink in color and can be seen by stretching the upper eyelid with your thumb. When optimal cat eye health is present, the conjunctiva will resemble the gums in brightness and color. A paler shade of pink may indicate anemia. Conjunctivitis is caused by an infection, allergies or inflammation of the conjunctiva. Weeping or discharge will usually accompany conjunctivitis. The conjunctiva will appear reddened, and symptoms of pain will be present.

Iris Should be Bright and Clear

The iris is the oval, colored part of a cat's eye. When healthy it should be bright and clear. Black spots or blood spots should be cause for concern. Ragged edges of the iris may indicate iris atrophy.

Pupil Size Fluctuates by Lighting and Mood

The pupil is the hole in the center of the iris, appearing as a black spot in the middle of the eye. Pupils in cats change size with mood, or with changes in lighting. Abnormal findings in the pupil are any discoloration, such as blue, indicating possible cataracts or nuclear sclerosis. Ragged edges may indicate abnormal cat eye health, or simply occur from aging.

Third Eyelid Should Not Be Visible

Cats have a membrane designed to cover a majority of the outer eye. Most times when a cat's eye is in good health, this third eyelid will not be seen. When there is a protrusion or elevation of the third eyelid, this is an indication of malfunction. Numerous eye disorders can cause appearance of the third eyelid. Some examples include relaxation of the eye ligaments, neurological or systemic diseases, cysts, tumors, ocular infections or diseases, dehydration or eye trauma.

Causes for Concern

Aside from prominence of the third eyelid, there are many other indications of poor cat eye health. Because a cat's eyes are usually clear, wide and piercing, it is generally easy to spot symptoms. Squinting, eye discharge, redness, cloudiness, watering, bulging eyes, loss of vision or crust or inflammation around the eyes can be symptoms of disease or infection. The most common causes of cat eye disorders are viral and chlamydial infections or fight wounds. Inflammation of the iris may be an indication of a viral infection, or even cancer. Many of the common diseases and infections affecting cat eye health can be prevented with normal kitten and adult cat vaccinations.