Pannus in Cats

Pannus is also called superficial keratitis and is a disease that can occur in cats and may lead to blindness of not treated in time. Pannus affects the cornea and the conjunctiva and may be visible as opaque lesions in the eye.

Affected Pets

Pannus is more frequent in dogs, but may occur in cats as well. This rare condition affects mostly middle aged or older felines of any breed.

Cats with white coats are more prone to developing pannus.

Pannus Causes in Felines

Pannus is a rare disease in cats and the causes of pannus are not known. It is believed that pannus is a genetic condition.

However, a hyperactive immune system may cause pannus; the immune system may attack the tissues of the eyes.

Exposure to light or sun may also be a contributing factor to triggering superficial keratitis.

Signs of Pannus

If your cat is affected by pannus, he will have a thick lesion on one or both eyes (on the cornea) and there may be inflammation in the eye area. The lesions cause no pain, but may extend and obstruct the cat’s vision.

There will be no ocular discharges and the eyes will not be red.

If the cat shows signs of pain (pawing the eye area, meows excessively or hides) and has red eyes, the eye problem may be of a different nature (i.e. ulcers or conjunctivitis).

Superficial Keratitis Diagnosis

The vet needs to check the eyes of the cat before establishing a clear diagnosis. The vet will take a look at the iris, conjunctiva and the cornea and see if there are no other causes that may produce similar symptoms.

Pannus Treatment Options

As the causes of pannus are not known, there is no treatment for the condition. The cat may get some eye drops that should reduce the inflammation. The eye drops may have low concentration of steroids such as prednisolone, or other anti inflammatories such as Cyclosporine or Dexamethasone.

The cat may also receive oral anti inflammatory drugs to support the topical treatment.

The treatment should be permanent, as otherwise, the lesions may develop and cover the entire cornea, causing blindness.

The cat should also be kept away from light and sun, as these may aggravate the condition. Ideally, the cat should be kept indoors for the rest of his life, in a room with dim lights.

If taken outside, the cat should wear goggles, which will protect the eyes from the UVA and UVB rays. The cat may reject the goggles, so you need to have patience and wait till the cat gets used to having eyewear.

Prevent Pannus

Pannus may not always be prevented, as the causes of the disease are not determined.

However, you can make sure your pet is not exposed to direct sunlight, especially if your cat is white. Protective goggles may be worn by cats that are more susceptible to developing superficial keratitis.