Friday 2 December 2011

How To Check a Cat's Eyes

Some tips on checking a cat's eyes from the best book on cat health. There is a post about dilated pupils that was created a long time ago and it seems that the vets that the cat owners visited were unsure what was causing it. Cats do compensate well for a loss of one of the senses, which masks the presence of the medical condition.

Cat eye problems can be seen when the eye waters, there is something in the eye, the cat blinks a lot, the cat paws at the eye, the nictitating membrane (third eyelid) is visible, the pupils are constantly dilated (my observation), or the cat indicates by his or her actions that the eye is painful.

Examine the cat's eyes in a darkened room. Use a flashlight (torch) and a magnifying glass, which allows you to examine the surface of the eye in more detail and possibly even inside the eye.

The cat needs to be immobile. I find this is best done by wrapping a thick towel around your cat and placing him on a counter top - all done with care and gentleness. But some cats will be cooperative without the need to do that.

Some immediate questions to ask on observing the eyes:
  • Do both eyes look the same? Comparing one with the other is a way of comparing an eye that has a problem with a normal eye if the problem is in one eye. Are they the same size, shape and colour?
  • Do the eyes bulge or are they recessed?
  • Are the eyes cloudy?
  • Is there a discharge?
Flash the light over the cornea (the outer surface of the eye) to check that it is clear. Check for signs of injury. The pupils of both eyes should be the same size. Pupils should narrow down to slits when the torch is pointed towards the eye (with caution). A test to check the cat's vision is to cover one eye and move your finger towards the other eye, whereupon the eye will blink when the finger is close to the eye.

Also with caution and gentleness you can push down on the eyeball with the eyelid closed. Does it feel hard? Does the cat indicate pain?1. A vet should be consulted promptly on signs of any indications of illness.

Note: (1) Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook ISBN 978-0-470-09530-0

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