Cat Eye Health

It is often hard to deduce what is causing irritation to your cat’s eyes. There are seven common cat eye conditions to consider before making a diagnosis.


Viruses, bacteria, fungi, bacteria, and parasites can all cause infections. Symptoms include swelling, redness, discharge rubbing and squinting. The symptoms may also include nasal discharge and sneezing. Treatment varies depending on the cause of the infection. Most viral infections are treated with symptomatic care, rest, good hydration and nutrition. More severe cases will need medication such as topical eye treatments.

Corneal ulcers

Corneal ulcers are caused by a loss of tissue from the surface of the eye. The clear tissue of the cat’s eye can become damaged through infection or injury. In rare cases anatomical eye abnormalities can be the cause. Corneal ulcers are easy to spot, as the affected part of the cornea will become cloudy. Other visible symptoms include squinting and redness.

Most corneal ulcers will usually heal after treatment has been administered. This may include treating underlying causes with antibiotics and pain relief. More severe ulcers may need surgery to promote healing. If you suspect your cat has corneal ulcers consult your vet immediately. Without appropriate treatment, your cat may develop an area of dead tissue over the ulcer. This tissue can in time rupture causing permanent blindness and disfigurement.


Cats who venture outdoors or that live in multi-cat households can more prone to eye trauma. Getting into a catfight can result in scratches or perforations to the surface of the eye. It is also possible for trauma to occur through:

  • Foreign objects becoming lodged under the eyelid
  • Falls
  • Traffic accidents

With mild cases of trauma, your cat’s eyes will become red and swollen. They may need treatment which may include topical anti-biotics and pain relief. For more severe cases surgery will be required to repair, or even remove the damaged eye.


Yes, cats have allergies too! Their eyes can become itchy and watery just like ours. Yet it is far less common for a cat to have an allergic reaction. Irritants can include dust, smoke, and strong fragrances. You can relieve your cat’s irritation at home by using a simple eyewash solution – if your cat will cooperate. However, if symptoms do not improve or worsen over time an appointment with your vet will have to be made. The symptoms of allergies can be the same as more serious conditions. Always seek a professional opinion.

Iris Discoloration

Cats with different colored eyes are adorable. Yet, it is not normal for a cat’s eye to change in adulthood. Note, that it is natural for a kitten’s irises to change color. Yet, for adult cats, this may mean they’re suffering from iris melanosis. This can result in brown patches forming on the iris. Typically, the condition isn’t a problem. Yet, in severe cases, the discoloration could lead to increased eye pressure (glaucoma).

Iris melanosis can often be confused with iris melanoma – a serious form of cancer. Changes to your cat’s iris should always be brought to the attention of your vet. Your vet will perform an eye exam to tell you if there’s anything you need to worry about.


Glaucoma is caused by an increase in eye pressure. The most common cause is the eye’s fluid drainage system has become blocked. Fluid is constantly being produced and drained from within the eyeball. So when there’s a blockage, this will lead to severe discomfort for your cat.

Causes of glaucoma include:

  • Anatomic eye abnormalities
  • Infection
  • Trauma
  • Tumors
  • Inflammatory disorders
  • Abnormal shifts in the eye’s lens.

Symptoms are very similar to the other causes of eye problems for cats. Their eyes may become weepy, red and cloudy. In more extreme cases they can become visibly enlarged.

If you suspect your cat has glaucoma, seek emergency help from your vet. Without timely treatment to lower the eye pressure your cat can lose their vision. Your vet will be able to treat the underlying cause of glaucoma with short-term treatment. Yet, in some cases, surgery may be required. In more severe cases, it is not uncommon for your cat’s eye to be removed to ensure comfort.


Cataracts affect the lens of the eye and cause the lens to become clouded. If left untreated this will lead to your cat’s vision becoming impaired. This is due to cataracts preventing light from reaching the back of the eye. More severe cases can lead to permanent blindness.

Cataracts are not to be confused with the typical aging of a cat’s eye. However, both conditions allow the pupils to appear white, grey or milky in color. As soon as you see any changes to the color of your cat’s eye, consult your vet immediately. Your vet will be able to diagnose the issue with a simple eye examination.

Surgery may be needed If your cat’s vision is severely compromised by cataracts. If your cat is suffering from any form of visual impairment, it is imperative not to let them outdoors.

Hi! My name is Jamie Fallon. I run, an online cat health and cat behavior resource. If I’m not sat in front of my PC—and I usually am—then I’m either spending time with my cats or my other half… Whoever jumps on me or asks me for food first!