Understanding Your Cat’s Vision

The vision of a cat is unlike anything in the animal world. Few animals can match the cat’s ability to locate and follow moving targets, be they prey, a toy, or a predator. As a result, a feline’s eyes are among its most important physical attributes – this is also why maintaining the health of your cat’s eyes is so vital to her quality of life.

But like all animals, cats can develop diseases, and sometimes, a disease develops in the eyes. Here are seven of the most common types of diseases of the eyes in cats, and what you need to know about them.

Eye Infectionseye diseases in cats

A cat can develop an eye infection when it is exposed to bacteria, viruses, fungi, and in some cases, even parasites can cause an eye infection. As you might imagine, infections are one of the most common diseases to affect the eyes of felines.

If a cat has an eye infection, the most common signs will include swelling, redness, squinting, discharge, and pawing at the infected eye. Not all eye infections are treated the same. Treatment depends on the underlying cause of the infection.


Conjunctivitis is when the pink membrane of the eye, the conjunctiva, becomes swollen and inflamed. A cat with conjunctivitis will squint and/or blink persistently. The tissue around the eye may become reddened and the eye will release a discharge. The most common cause of conjunctivitis in cats is the herpes virus, but other viral and bacterial infections can also increase the risk.

Treating conjunctivitis in cats is usually performed on an outpatient basis and the type of treatment depends on what is causing the disease. Options can include oral and topical antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications. Surgery is also an option, but it is usually reserved for very serious cases.

Ulcerative Keratitis (Corneal Ulcers)

Ulcerative keratitis is an open sore-type of wound in the cat’s cornea, the clear layer of the eye through which light enters. When a cat has a corneal ulcer, the affected eye will appear cloudy. Other signs include redness, squinting, pain, and occasional discharge.

Treatment for ulcerative keratitis depends on the severity of the disease. Superficial corneal ulcers will usually respond positively with the appropriate antibiotics and pain medications. If the corneal ulcer is deep, then surgery may be required.


Glaucoma is a condition where pressure in the eye builds up because the fluid that enters the eye cannot exit. This condition is most commonly caused by an infection, trauma, an inflammatory disorder, a tumor, or an abnormal shift in the lens of the eye. Symptoms can include pain, redness, discharge, and cloudiness in the eye. In very severe cases, you can physically see the affected eye is larger than the healthy eye.

Glaucoma is considered an emergency in cats because if treatment is not administered quickly, a cat could lose her vision in that eye. Treatment is based on what is causing the glaucoma, along with medications to help reduce the internal pressure of the eye.


When the lens of the eye starts turning cloudy, a cat is developing a cataract, which will ultimately block light from reaching the back of the eye. This results in diminished eyesight or even blindness in more severe instances.

A veterinarian will usually recommend surgery to repair the cataract. But, if your cat is older and you don’t want to risk it, your cat should be able to adapt to her poor vision as long as she remains an indoor pet.


Exophthalmos is a disease in which the eyeball protrudes, or bulges, from the orbit of the eye. Most of the time, this condition is caused by a mass growing behind the eyeball. Other than the swollen eye, the most common symptoms of exophthalmos include fever, pus in or around the eye, lethargy, inability to close the eye, corneal inflammation, discharge, and pain when opening the mouth.

If a cat has exophthalmos, the treatment will depend on what is causing the condition. If it is being caused by a cancerous mass, then surgery and/or radiation and chemotherapy will usually be recommended.


Whereas exophthalmos causes the eye to protrude, enophthalmos is a disease that causes the eyeball to recess back into the skull. This is most commonly caused by a mass growing in front of the eye. It can also be the result of the eyeball losing some of its volume, which causes the eyeball to shrink. Breeds with long, narrow heads are most at risk for this disease.

Treatment for enophthalmos is based on what is causing the condition. For instance, if dehydration is the cause, then intravenous infusion can help, while if it is being caused by a cancerous mass, then surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation therapy will be the typical treatment.

If your cat has any of the above diseases of the eye and your veterinarian prescribes medications or supplements for her, you can receive a free quote for the medications from Diamondback Drugs. We can help you save money on all of your cat’s medications.


Author: Giano Panzarella