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Why Is My Cat's Eye Cloudy?

Customer Question
One of my cat's eyes...
One of my cat's eyes has suddently gone all cloudy. There's a little tearing happening, but not alot, and it appears to be clear tears. Any ideas?
Submitted: 8 years ago.Category: Cat Veterinary
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Answered in 2 minutes by:
6/25/2010
Cat Veterinarian: Dr. Bruce, Cat Veterinarian replied 8 years ago
Dr. Bruce
Dr. Bruce, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 1,264
Experience: 13 years experience in small animal medicine/surgery
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I would like to help, but I need more information first.

Does he go outside at all?

Is he acting ill at all?

Is the cloudiness on the surface of the eye, or inside the eye? What color is the cloudiness?

Is he squinting at all?

Was there any trauma to the eye that you are aware of? Maybe another animal in the house that he plays rough with?

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Customer reply replied 8 years ago

Hi, thanks for answering my question about Henry!

Yes, he's an indoor/outdoor cat.

He's not acting ill, but his fur is a little sparse these days mainly on the underside.

The cloudiness seems to be on the outside, covers the entire eye, and it's a light gray/whitish color.

He is squinting, and if he's acting ill at all, I can tell it's bothering him, so he's a little down. But he's not rubbing it or otherwise reacting to it, other than being a little bummed.

I don't notice any trauma: 1) there doesn't seem to be any inflammation, and the tears are clear, 2) there aren't any scratches to the exterior area around the eye, or anywhere on him, 3) it doesn't seem to have affected the inner eyelid in any way, and the inner eyelid is not covering for protection or anything, 4) there are no ticks on him, but he could have fleas - I like to wait as long as I can to Frontline him b/c the poison bothers him - but the whole house has been sprayed. Finally, the eye itself, although covered with this cloudy film doesn't seem to have any scratches on it - it seems perfectly conical and smooth.

Please don't hesitate to ask more questions - I'm quite worried about him - and happy to respond back with further details.

Cat Veterinarian: Dr. Bruce, Cat Veterinarian replied 8 years ago

Thank you for replying to my questions. Your detailed answers help me greatly to be able to give you a useful response.

Based on your information, it sounds like corneal edema (inflammation of the surface tissue of the eye). Normally the cornea is transparent, but when some sort of inflammation occurs, it can become opaque. This is due to swelling and influx of fluid and white blood cells.

The two most common causes of acute corneal edema would be infection, and trauma.

Although it appears that the surface is intact, there can be very small ulcers or defects that cannot be seen without special testing. The common test used is called a fluorescein stain. A special stain is put into the eye (doesn't hurt the eye or the patient), and then the eye is flushed. The eye is illuminated with a black light, which causes the stain to glow. The healthy surface of the cornea does not take up the stain. Anywhere that there is an ulcer or defect in the surface, will glow with the stain. Any cat that goes outside is predisposed to trauma (runs through shrubbery, gets scratched by another cat (can happen even without obvious signs of trauma around the eye), etc).

Infection can be another cause of acute edema as well. Any outdoor cat is exposed to many different pathogens, and depending on the virulence, can cause infection of the eye. There can also be a relationship to trauma and infection as well. Whatever traumatized the eye, can also inoculate it with some sort of pathogen.

Even though the discharge is clear, the edema and the fact that he is squinting and acting down, concerns me that the eye is in need of treatment. I would encourage you to take Henry to be seen by your vet. At the very least, he should perform the stain mentioned above. It would not be wrong to measure the tear production and the pressures inside the eyes as well, to make sure there isn't inflammation inside the eye (uveitis).

Although less likely, it is also possible that there is something more systemic going on, and the eye is the first organ showing signs. Depending on the physical exam, and your desire to work this problem up, blood work and urinalysis may be worth doing as well.

Dr. Bruce
Dr. Bruce, Cat Veterinarian
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Satisfied Customers: 1,264
Experience: 13 years experience in small animal medicine/surgery
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Customer reply replied 7 years ago
As a follow-up. I rushed him to the Emergency Vet. After all, you don't want to 'wait and see' on eye stuff. Lucky thing I did. Turns-out he had a luxated lens (lens had luxated into the corneal fluid) due to chronic inflammation over years - but he could still see, so I drove directly from the Emergency Vet (southern CT) up to Tufts Veterinary Medical School, he had emergency surgery that night, and they were able to remove the lens and save his eyesight. Yay! Tufts sent him home with a pretty rigorous, extensive post-op routine of drops, eye ointment, meds, buprenorphine, and eye lubricant, that had me hopping every hour of the day for about 1 week, then every other hour for the week after, slowly tapering off. Post-op routine also included follow-ups with my local feline eye specialist every other day for the first 2 weeks after surgery, then bi-weekly for the third week, then once a week weeks 4-8, then tapering off to every 3 months. All is well now. He'll be on daily prednisolone for the duration of his life, and we constantly monitor the pressure in both eyes at my specialist. Thanks for all your help!
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