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Glaucoma in Cats



You will need to give a thorough history of your cat's health, onset of symptoms, as far as you have been able to tell, and possible incidents that might have preceded this condition, such as injuries to the eye (even those which you consider minor). During the physical examination, your veterinarian will test the pressure within your cat's  eyes using a tonometer on the surface of the eye. If the disease began suddenly, your veterinarian will refer your cat to a veterinary ophthalmologist for a detailed examination of both eyes, including evaluation of the filtration angles by gonioscopy -- measuring the anterior of the eye. Pressure within the eye can measure as high as 45 to 65 mmHg, making this a very painful condition.


Electroretinography will be also performed by the veterinary ophthalmologist to determine if the eye will remain blind despite treatment. In secondary diseases, X-rays and an ultrasound may show abnormalities within the eye.


Often both eyes are affected, but not always. In cases where only one eye is affected, steps will be taken to protect the unaffected eye from developing a diseased condition.




Your veterinarian will prescribe multiple drugs to lower the pressure within your cat's eye and to get it into the normal range as quickly as possible in an attempt to salvage vision. Cats often have a long-term condition that has lead to the glaucoma before the obvious symptoms become present.


Surgery may be indicated as well. There are different treatments depending on the exact nature of the glaucoma. The fluid may be drained and the fluid producing cells altered to stop fluid buildup within the eye. This process, called cyclocryotherapy, uses cold temperatures to kill the cells that produce intraocular fluid. If found early, this procedure may slow down or stop further progression. However, in most long term cases the eye will have to be removed. The empty eye socket may be closed up permanently, or the eye cavity can be filled with an orb, to keep the ocular space filled.


Most cats will adjust over time to the loss of their eye, especially as they may have been losing their vision over a period of time. Talk to your veterinarian about ways in which you can help your cat to transition, and how you can help to make its life easier without its sight. In cases where a cat has lost its sight entirely, the owner is advised to keep the cat indoors at all times, as the cat will be more vulnerable without its vision.


Living and Management


If the condition has been caught early enough and your veterinarian is able to manage the condition, you will need to revisit your veterinarian regularly to have the pressure within the eye assessed and to monitor for drug interactions and make changes as necessary. Your veterinary ophthalmologist will examine the unaffected (or "good") eye to determine its risk of also developing glaucoma. Because more than 50 percent of cats with primary glaucoma will develop complications in their unaffected eye within 8 months, preventative therapy should be done quickly.



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