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Corneal Degeneration in Cats

By: Dr. Bari Spielman

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Corneal degeneration is the deposit of fatty material within the cornea. It is usually secondary to other ocular or systemic disorders and may be unilateral (one-sided) or bilateral (both sides). Clinical appearance may be highly variable; lipid infiltrates are often dense white, grayish-white, or crystalline with sharply demarcated borders.

Corneal degeneration is rare in the cat.

Causes

  • The primary cause of fatty infiltration of the cornea in the cat is prior or active inflammation of the cornea.

    What to Watch For

  • Opacity (clouding) of the cornea with whitish deposits
  • Neovascularization (new blood vessels)
  • Roughened appearing cornea
  • Corneal scars

    Diagnosis

  • Complete eye examination with Schirmer tear test, fluorescein staining of the cornea and examination of the interior of the eye

  • Complete physical examination

    Treatment

    There is no treatment available to decrease or prevent the development of lipid within the cornea, but any corneal inflammation present should be treated appropriately. Surgery is not recommended to remove the lipid because the infiltrate usually returns to the cornea after surgery.

    Home Care and Prevention

    It is very important to follow the instructions given to you by your veterinarian. Re-examination is indicated if any ocular pain or corneal ulceration develop, and to monitor any concurrent corneal inflammation.

    The best way to prevent corneal degeneration is to control any underlying corneal diseases. In most instances, lipid degeneration of the cornea is not painful and does not significantly decrease the cat's vision.

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