It’s one of the scariest things that can happen as a cat owner: you look at your pet, and realize he seems to have a wound on his eye. Corneal ulcers, which are wounds on the cornea, or clear surface of the eye, are quite serious. As a pet owner, it is important that you know what to do if you suspect your cat may be suffering from one.
Assessing the damage.
This is an issue for which you’re absolutely going to need to call your vet. Before you do so, however, you’ll want to make a quick assessment of your cat’s eye, so you can give your vet a better idea of what’s going on as you talk over the phone. Make note of the following:
- Is your cat’s eye open or shut?
- Is there any blood coming from the eye or the surrounding tissues?
- Are pus or any other secretions leaking from the eye?
- Does your cat seem to be in pain? (For instance, is he or she hiding or refusing to let you come near?)
Once you have established answers to these questions, call your vet, and let him or her know what’s going on. Depending on your cat’s condition, you may be told to come to the vet’s office immediately, or you may be given an appointment within the next day or so.
Diagnosing the ulcer.
Your vet will need to evaluate the severity of the ulcer in order to determine how to best treat it. To accomplish this, he or she will likely first sedate your cat, since your cat is unlikely to tolerate the painful eye being examined without this step. Then, your vet will use a handheld light and microscope to examine the eye. He or she may also insert a special dye into the eye. This dye will collect more heavily in injured areas of the cornea and will allow the vet to see the size and depth of the wound.
Treating the ulcer.
For severe ulcers, surgery may be required. Your vet may aim to repair the eye directly, or the eyelid may be temporarily sewn shut to prevent infection while the eye heals. The stitches can be removed after several weeks. For less severe ulcers, you will probably be sent home with an antibiotic cream or drops to put in the cat’s eye every couple of hours. Your cat may need to wear a cone around his head to keep him from scratching. You can expect to return to the vet every few weeks to have him or her check on your cat’s progress.
Most cats recover quite well from corneal ulcers, as long as they receive the proper treatment. Do not hesitate to contact your vet–or an animal hospital, such as, Center-Sinai Animal Hospital–if you think your cat may have a corneal ulcer. Without treatment, infection can set in quickly, and your cat risks losing the eye.