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Ocular (Eye) Discharge in Cats

By: Dr. Noelle McNabb

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Diagnosis In-depth

The following diagnostic tests may be recommended in diagnosing and treating your pet's ocular disease:

  • Complete medical history and physical examination

  • Complete ophthalmic examination including a Schirmer tear test to determine if tear production is normal, elevated or reduced; fluorescein staining of the cornea to detect surface defects, ulcers and erosions; tonometry to measure the pressure within the eye;, and examination of the interior of the eye under magnification. Your veterinarian may refer your cat to a veterinary ophthalmologist for detailed evaluation of the eye using specialized instrumentation.

  • Cytology (cell analysis) of samples collected from gland openings in the eyelid margins or from the cornea and conjunctiva

  • Flushing of saline through the tear ducts to ensure they are open

  • Complete blood count (CBC) and serum tests to identify any related problems.

    Initial test results and/or lack of response to initial treatments may necessitate further testing including:

  • Culture of material from infected areas

  • Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and immunofluorescent antibody (IFA) tests on samples collected from the conjunctiva and cornea to detect certain viral infections such as herpesvirus and calicivirus

  • Skin cell scrapings from the eyelid or eyelid margin to help determine the presence of parasitic infection, fungal infection, cancerous disease or bacterial infection

  • A fine-needle aspirate (FNA) of any solitary mass/tumor around the eye

  • Serology testing for feline leukemia virus, feline immunodeficiency virus, feline infectious peritonitis virus, toxoplasmosis and cryptococcosis

  • Biopsy (tissue sample)of abnormal deep tissue around the eye

  • Ultrasonography of the eye and surrounding soft tissues

  • Skull X-rays to identify fractures, diseases of the sinuses, and bony tumors of the head

  • Dacryocystorhinography, a specialized X-ray study of the tear duct drainage system (rarely performed in the cat)

  • Computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to identify problems within the eye, around the eye, within the nose and sinuses, the bones of the face or the brain.

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