Red Eyes in Cats

PetMD Editorial
By PetMD Editorial
Published: January 19, 2009

Episcleritis in Cats

Episcleritis is a medical condition of the eye, where the episclera (white part of the eye) appears red, but does not have any related discharge or excess tearing. This condition is typically benign and easy to treat using topical ointments or eye drops. The inflammation may appear as either a nodule or a thickening of the sclera (white part of the eye). Although it is typically limited to the specific area, it is possible for the inflammation to spread to other areas of the eye. The outcome is generally positive with treatment, although there are possible complications to be aware of.

Symptoms and Types

Episcleritis may appear as a small growth or nodule in the eye. The nodule may be smooth, painless, pink, or tan in color, or it may look like a firm mass. In some cases, the inflammation may be more widespread, causing your cat's eye to become reddened and irritated. Your cat may also experience pain, show signs of discomfort, rub its eye frequently, have discharge, or even close the affected eye.


The development of this inflammation is thought to be related to the immune system. Also, bacterial infections or fungal infections, cancer (lymphoma), eye trauma, and glaucoma have been known to cause inflammation in the eye.



Your veterinarian will want to perform a full eye exam. Only then can your doctor begin to rule out possible causes for the inflammation. If there is a large mass located in the eye, a biopsy may be performed to rule out cancer. It is also possible that there is a foreign object lodged in the eye that is causing the inflammation or infection.


The most common types of treatment for this medical condition are topical ointments and eye drops; either will vary in concentration and will based upon the severity of the inflammation. In most cases, treatment can be performed on an outpatient basis, with visits to your veterinarian over the following weeks to ensure that the condition clears up and no serious complications arise. Remain observant of your cat's progress so that you can report any changes for the worse to your doctor immediately. An Elizabethan collar may be used to prevent your cat from rubbing or scratching at its eye area repeatedly. Otherwise, complications may arise from infection or lacerations to the eye due to the friction.

Living and Management

Following treatment, it is important to observe for progress. This condition is likely to recur occasionally, so you will want to be aware of any changes. Look for signs of discharge (mucus), reddening, or growth in the nodule. Some known complications are vision loss, chronic eye pain, and glaucoma.

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