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Watery Eyes in Cats

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The first step in treatment will be to resolve the cause of the eye irritation ‒ i.e., remove the foreign body from the moist tissues of the eye or the cornea/sclera. Treatment of the primary eye disease, such as conjunctivitis, corneal ulceration with or without inflammation, and/or inflammation of the iris and other areas in the front part of the eye will be the priority. Successful management of a primary lesion that is blocking drainage of tears may allow normal tear flow through the tear drainage system to resume. Patients with inflammation of the nasolacrimal sac may need a catheter placed in the tear duct to hold it open and to prevent scar formation


If the cause is abnormal eyelid formation, surgical repair may be necessary. This is typically a straightforward procedure, where the lids are tacked into a normal position and allowed to readjust. Healing is normally quick and the condition is satisfactorily resolved.


Cryosurgery or removal of hair by electrolysis can be used to treat distichiasis.


Tumors of the eyelid will be treated aggressively to prevent invasion into other areas of the head, such as the third eyelid or lymph nodes. In worst cases, the tumor can extend along the optic nerve, invading the brain. The prognosis is usually successful when surgery is performed early.

Your veterinarian will prescribe appropriate medications based on the diagnosis and plan for treating your cat. These may include topical antibiotic ointments and pain relieving ointments that will contribute to the healing process. An Elizabethan collar should be used during the time of recovery to prevent your cat from further irritating the site.


Living and Management


If your cat has been suffering from inflammation of the nasolacrimal sac, your veterinarian will want to reevaluate your cat every seven days until the condition has been resolved. Treatment will be continued for at least seven days after resolution to help prevent recurrence. If the problem persists for more than 7-10 days, with treatment, or recurs soon after cessation of treatment, a foreign body or persistent infection may be involved, and your veterinarian will want to carry the diagnostic efforts further.


If a surgical procedure to create an opening to drain tears into the nasal cavity was performed, the tubing, called a canula, will be reevaluated every seven days to ensure that it has remained intact. The canula may need to be resutured in place if it becomes loosened or dislodged. After the tubing has been removed, it will be reevaluated again in 14 days.


Recurrence is the most common complication of this condition. This is usually caused by a recurrence of the cause of the eye irritation; a recurrence of inflammation of the nasolacrimal sac; or closure of the surgical openings that were created to allow tears to drain into the nasal cavity.



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