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An 8-week-old Ragdoll with follicular conjunctivitis, showing secondary adhesion of third eyelid to cornea. Courtesy Dr Jim Euclid
Haw's syndrome in a cat due to FeLV infection
Schirmer tear test for keratoconjunctivitis sicca in cats
Lipid aqueous in the right eye of a Burmese kitten

Ophthalmic examination of the cat is different to other species, even dogs. Initially the cat is observed from a distance in order to assess the nature and severity of the ocular problem.

If appropriate, the cat should be allowed to move freely about the consulting room; this provides a very crude method of assessing vision.

For a detailed examination of the lens, vitreous and fundus, instillation of a mydriatic is essential. This is because, in comparison to the dog, the pupil of normal cats responds briskly and more completely to bright light and the pupil shape changes from round to a narrow vertical slit, resulting in a very limited field of view. Tropicamide 1% is the drug of choice.

A thorough examination of the eye includes examination of the eyelids, cornea (including fluorescein staining; schirmer tear test and tonometry), iris, lens, vitreous and fundus.

Examination of periorbital structures is used to check for any facial swellings associated with periorbital abscesses, fractures, or neoplasia. An examination of the mouth is conducted to examine for draining abscesses or protruding tumours.

Common eye diseases

Conjunctivitis Anterior uveitis Cataract
Corneal sequestrum Entropion Distichiasis
Glaucoma Corneal ulcers Keratoconjunctivitis sicca
Progressive retinal atrophy Horner's syndrome Eosinophilic keratitis
Iris melanoma Ciliary adenoma Ocular lymphosarcoma
Lipid aqueous

Gallery pictorial

Ocular manifestations of systemic disease

Causes Prevalence Blepharitis Conjunctivitis Keratitis Ant Uveitis Lens Chorioretinitis Central blindness
Viral diseases
FeLV + ++ ++
FIV + + +
FIP + + +
Herpes virus + + + +?
Calicivirus + +
Feline Panleucopenia +/- + ++
Bacterial diseases
Chlamydia spp + + +
Mycoplasma spp + +
Tuberculosis + + +
Tetanus +/- Nictitans membrane protrusion
Toxocara spp +/- +
Dirofilaria spp +/- +
Demodex spp +/- +
Thelazia spp +/- +
Fly larvae +/- + +
Toxoplasma spp ++ +++ ++
Leishmania spp +/- +
Mycoplasma spp +/- +
Fungal diseases
Cryptococcus spp +/- +
Histoplasma spp +/- + +
Blastomyces spp - +
Coccidioides spp +/- +
Microsporum spp + +
Rhinosporidiosis spp? +/- +
Immune mediated
Pemphigus + +
Allergy + +
Hypertension ++ ++
Hyperviscosity syndrome + +
DIC + +
Diabetes mellitus +/- +/- +/-
hyperthyroidism + +
Hyperlipidemia +/- + +
Hyperparathyroidism +/- +
Hepatic encephalopathy + +
Mucopolysaccharidosis +/- + + +
Taurine deficiency + Degeneration
Thiamine deficiency +/- Degeneration
Arginine deficiency +/- +
Nervous system diseases
Dysautonomia ++ Lachrymal hyposecretion Mydriasis
Spongiform encephalopathy +/- +