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Common Eye Problems in Cats

Eye problems in cats are fairly common and can be caused by a number of different issues. Below, you'll learn about three conditions that could affect your cat's eyes. 

Conditions That Can Affect Your Cat's Eyes

Like our own eyes, your cat's eyes can be affected by a number of different infections and conditions that can be painful or even contagious. Here are a few of the most common conditions that can affect your cat's eyes and the associated symptoms.

Cat Eye Infections & Conjunctivitis

Eye infections can be painful, irritating and sometimes contagious to other cats. Cat eye infections can be caused by:

  • Viral infections
  • Upper respiratory infections (cat colds)
  • Parasites
  • Bacterial bacterial
  • Fungal infections

While the causes of these eye infections vary, the symptoms are very similar. If your cat is suffering from an eye infection, symptoms may include redness around the eye, watery eyes, discharge, and possibly swelling. You may also notice that your cat is displaying other symptoms such as nasal congestion (runny nose) and sneezing or maybe rubbing at the eye. 

Treatment of your cat's eye infection will largely depend on the cause. In many cases, your vet may prescribe antibiotic drops or ointment to fight the infection and ease symptoms. It is also commonly recommended that you clean your cat's eyes gently to remove discharge and keep your cat safely indoors while they recover. If your cat's eye infection is caused by another health condition, your cat's treatment may be more focused on treating the underlying health condition.


Glaucoma in cats is caused by pressure on the eye due to a buildup of pressure from excess fluid. Causes of the fluid buildup can include:

  • Genetics
  • Eye infections
  • Eye injury
  • Physical abnormalities
  • Inflammation
  • Tumors

If your cat is suffering from glaucoma, they will typically show signs of eye pain such as squinting or rubbing at the eye as well as crying. Other signs can include swollen runny eyes or redness.

Symptoms of glaucoma in cats may require emergency or urgent veterinary care. Early detection and treatment is key when it comes to treating glaucoma. If your cat is showing symptoms, call your vet straight away to make an appointment. 

This condition is typically treated by draining the excess fluid from the eye to relieve pressure (and pain). Once the underlying cause of the condition is treated, mild causes of glaucoma may clear up relatively quickly. More severe cases will require ongoing treatment, or the affected eye may even need to be removed.


Although cataracts in cats can be the result of the aging process, they are most often the result of an inflammation within the eye called uveitis. Other causes of cataracts in cats include:

  • Nutritional imbalances / Calcium deficiency
  • Cancer
  • Exposure to a toxic substance.
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Electric shock
  • Genetic or hereditary factors

Early signs of cataracts can be difficult to detect by pet parents, but can be spotted early by your vet during your pet's annual routine examinations. Once the condition is more advanced, you will likely notice a cloudy or milky appearance to the eye. Unfortunately, by the time the condition reaches this stage, your cat has likely suffered significant vision loss.

Signs of vision loss include a reluctance to jump up and to climb stairs, or you may notice that your cat has difficulties finding their water or food bowl. If your cat shows signs of vision loss, contact your vet as soon as possible to schedule an examination.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your kitty is experiencing symptoms of an eye condition that requires emergency or urgent carecontact our Tucson vets right away. 

Common Eye Problems in Cats

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