Cat Dry Eyes
Cat Dry Eyes
Dry eye, which is known as medically as Keratoconjunctivitis sicca, is a condition where the tear glands fail to produce a sufficient amount of tears to keep the eye moist. This leads to a dry cornea in a cat’s eye. In this disorder, less of the watery substance and more of the mucus is found in a cat’s tears.
Causes of Dry Eyes in Cats
A virus is thought to be the leading reason that cats may suffer from dry eyes. However, dry eyes are much more commonly found in dogs than in cats; although a hereditary form of the disease can occur often in Burmese cats as well. Injury to the nerves in the eyes or the tear glands themselves can also lead to dryness of the eyes.
Signs and Symptoms
The most common sign of dry eyes is a thick, mucus like discharge from one or both a cat’s eyes. This is due to the lack of aqueous tear production. This discharge is also common with pink eye, which can lead to a misdiagnosis and incorrect treatment in cats.
Another primary symptom of dry eyes in cats is the dull, opaque appearance in the eye. For an animal with normal producing tear glands, the eyes will appear to glisten.
Recurring episodes of Cat Pink Eye, or conjunctivitis, are also common with dry eyes. If left untreated, blindness is likely to occur.
Diagnosis of Dry Eyes
To properly diagnose dry eyes, the volume of tears is measured. The Schirmer tear test is used, which is performed by putting a paper strip into the pool of tears found in the inner corner of a cat’s eye. The paper is left one minute to see how far the liquid will wet the strip. Normal tear pools will wet the paper to a length of 12-22 millimeters. Anything else is likely to suggest dry eyes.
Treatment for dry eyes in cats includes topical treatments and medications and, in some dire situations, treatment may include surgery as well.
Topical Treatments and Medication
Frequent use of artificial tears is beneficial in keeping the eyes moist. If the dry eyes are severe, an ophthalmic cyclosporin ointment is prescribed. The cream should be applied to the surface of the affected eye. The frequency of application will be determined by the veterinarian in response to the severity of the condition. Results from using the medication are typically not immediate, which is why artificial tears should be continued. Treatment is generally lifelong for cats with dry eyes.
Surgical treatment should be seen as a last resort for eliminating dry eyes in cats. The procedure involves implanting a salivary gland into the corner of the eye. This gland will take place of the inoperative tear gland.
The surgery brings several disadvantages with it. The most common con of the surgery is that the amount of saliva produced can be more than the eyes can handle, which will result in watery eyes and a buildup of mineral deposits.