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Anterior Uveitis in Cats

By: Dr. Jennifer Welser

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Diagnosis In-depth

Diagnostic tests are needed to diagnose anterior uveitis and exclude other diseases. These tests include:

  • Complete medical history and physical examination. Because anterior uveitis is commonly linked to a systemic disease, attention should be directed to the whole body, not just the eyes. The history that you give to your veterinarian can be helpful in determining exposure to infectious disease.

  • A complete examination of the eye. Your veterinarian or veterinary ophthalmologist will use various tools such as a direct and indirect ophthalmoscope, a tonometer, and a slit lamp. Among other things, an exam can determine if the inflammation affects one or both eyes; if the anterior and/or posterior segment of each eye is affected; if the lens is normal; and if there are any signs specific to the various causes.

  • General blood tests to evaluate the red and white blood cells, platelets and general organ function like kidneys, pancreas and liver. These are basic tests for determining if the problem is confined to the eye or if it is affecting the rest of the body as well.

  • Specific blood tests directed toward finding an underlying cause. Blood tests can evaluate the immune system, specific organ function and can diagnose many of the infectious diseases.

  • Blood pressure measurement to determine if hypertension is present

  • Blood culture for bacteria if a widespread infection is suspected

  • Ultrasound of the eye. If an eye is so inflamed that an examination is difficult, an ultrasound of the eye can help locate a tumor or perhaps a lens that has either become a cataract or has fallen out of place in the eye.

  • An X-ray of the chest when the cause of uveitis can be traced to a tumors or fungal diseases

  • Ultrasound and X-rays of the rest of the body to identify and localize tumors that may involve other organs in the body.

    Treatment In-depth

    Treatments for anterior uveitis may include one or more of the following:

    Symptomatic therapy, regardless of the cause. Symptomatic therapy includes general supportive care of a sick animal such as fluids, nutritional support, antibiotics and pain relief. Examples of symptomatic therapy for the eye may include:

    Topical Medications (drops and ointments for the eye)

  • Anti-inflammatory medication. Steroids: prednisolone, dexamethasone, betamethasone. Non-steroidal drugs: flurbiprofen, diclofenac, suprofen.

  • Cycloplegic drugs such as atropine stabilize the blood vessels and dilate the pupil. These drugs provide comfort by paralyzing muscles in the eye that spasm when inflammation is present.

    Oral and Injectable Medications

  • Anti-inflammatory medicine including corticosteroids (prednisone, dexamethasone) and nonsteroidal drugs like carprofen and aspirin. Oral steroids are not used in the presence of any of the infectious agents.

    Specific therapy is used when there is a definitive diagnosis or high suspicion of a specific cause. Some examples:

  • Itraconazole is used for fungal diseases.

  • Doxycycline is used for tick-transmitted diseases.

  • Clindamycin is used for toxoplasmosis.

  • Immune suppressants (prednisone, azathioprine) are used for immune-mediated diseases.

  • Surgical intervention is usually reserved for the treatment of tumors in the eye or for complications such as glaucoma that cannot be controlled with medications. Frequently in these cases, the eye is surgically removed (enucleation).

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