cats eyes; two different sized pupils-symptom of peripheral vestibular disease?

Our 1 year old cat shows all the symptoms of peripheral vestibular disease (head tilt, walking in circles, loss of balance) but her pupils are two different sizes and will not react to light, can anisocoria be another symptom of this disease? If so, what would be the best treatment options? Please help.

  • Vetinfo

    By: Kara McCarty El Segundo, CA

    Replied on 04/19/2011

    Your cat has what is called anisicoria meaning pupils of different size and it's important to differentiate which pupil is abnormal. Can you tell if the eye that has the larger responds to light? Take her into a darker room with a flashlight and shine a light into her eye with the bigger pupil. By taking her in a dark room and seeing if both pupils become equal and then if one pupil doesn't respond to a light stimulus OR if they stay unequal in the dark and pupil response is present in both eyes it will help.

    Causes of unequal pupils can be a feline leukemia infection, an infection (bacterial, fungal or viral) or inflammation in her eye, trauma, a tumor in her eye or along the pathways of the nerves that innervate her eye, glaucoma, feline infectious peritonitis, toxoplasmosis, a polyp in his nose or pharynx, or idiopathic meaning we never figure out why it happens. Of course treatment depends upon what is causing the problem.

    If she has a droopy eyelid and her third eyelid is raised on the side with the small pupil it's likely she has Horner's Syndrome and that is the affected eye. This can be from a middle ear infection, a polyp in hers ear creating pressure on the nerve to her eye, a feline leukemia infection, a intervertebral disc that's displaced and affecting nerve function, a tumor or a fibrocartilagenous emboli leading to nerve damage or idiopathic.

    Because she has a head tilt and is circling a middle ear infection, polyp and feline leukemia move up the list but toxoplasmosis or a fungal infection also must be considered and given her age Feline Infectious Peritonitis is a possibility. This likely isn't something that can be treated at home. She needs to see her veterinarian for an examination and some diagnostics.

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