Glaucoma in Cats

Feline Glaucoma

Glaucoma is abnormally high pressure in the eye. Inside the normal eye there is constant production and drainage of a watery fluid called aqueous humor. When there is a problem with the drainage of this fluid, the pressure within the eye can increase. High pressure causes damage to the optic nerve, which, in turn, causes vision loss. Causes of glaucoma can be primary (spontaneous) or secondary.

Below is an overview of feline glaucoma followed by in-depth information about the diagnosis and treatment options for this disease.

Primary Glaucoma.

Primary glaucoma indicates a problem in the area where fluid leaves the eye. The problem can be structural or one that involves the function of the drainage area of the eye. This form of glaucoma has a tendency to be inherited and is very rare in the cat.

Secondary Glaucoma.

Secondary glaucoma develops as a side effect of some other disorder within the eye. Many different eye diseases can interrupt the usual flow of aqueous humor within the eye or disrupt the drainage of this fluid from the eye.

Causes of Glaucoma

The exact precipitating cause of primary glaucoma is unknown. The disease appears to occur spontaneously, often without any warning. Even though the drainage area of the eye may be abnormal since birth, it is not understood why acute glaucoma appears at a particular time, later in life.

Secondary glaucoma is the most important form of glaucoma in the cat and has numerous causes, including the following:

What to Watch For

Glaucoma generally only affects one eye initially. Depending on the underlying cause of the glaucoma, the other eye may be at risk for developing glaucoma in the future.

Diagnosis of Glaucoma in Cats

Diagnostic tests are needed to recognize glaucoma and exclude other diseases. Tests may include the following:

Treatment of Glaucoma in Cats

The primary goals of the treatment of glaucoma are to treat or correct any underlying causes, to decrease the pressure within the eye, and to save vision if possible. Treatment of glaucoma in cats may be medical or surgical.

Medical Therapy

Surgical Therapy

Home Care

Glaucoma is often a very difficult problem to treat. Medications must be administered at consistent times and must often be continued indefinitely. It is important to administer glaucoma medications exactly as your veterinarian prescribes them. Medications should not be stopped just because the appearance of the eye has improved. In the event that vision cannot be saved, understand that such vision loss is not life threatening and the vast majority of cats adjust very well to impaired vision or blindness in one or both eyes.

In-depth information About Glaucoma in Cats

Glaucoma is an elevation of the pressure within the eye that is incompatible with normal function of the eye. It is a disorder of the outflow of fluid (aqueous humor) from the eye and not a disease of overproduction of fluid within the eye. Sudden, high elevations of pressure within the eye can cause devastating and irreparable damage to the retina (which acts like the film a the camera) and the optic nerve (which sends information from the eye to the brain).

The causes of glaucoma are both primary (spontaneous, probably inherited) and secondary (arise in association with other diseases within the eye).

Primary Glaucoma in Cats

Secondary Glaucoma in Cats

What to Watch For

In-depth information About Diagnosis of Glaucoma in Cats

Veterinary care includes both diagnostic tests and subsequent treatment recommendations.

The eye examination may answer some of the following important questions. Answering these questions helps to determine the cause of the glaucoma and the prognosis:

Other tests may include:

In-depth information About Treatment of Glaucoma in Cats

Treatment for glaucoma can be broken down into medical and surgical care. Depending on the cause of the glaucoma, different options are available.

Medical Options

Surgical Options

Home Care for Cats with Glaucoma

Optimal treatment for your pet requires a combination of home and professional veterinary care. Follow-up can be critical and may involve the following:

Administer prescribed medication(s) as directed and be certain to alert your veterinarian if you are experiencing problems treating your pet. Repeated trips to your veterinarian are important in order to monitor the pressure within the eye and to make adjustments in medications.

Understand the medications that your pet is on and what each one is used for. Ask your veterinarian about potential side effects to the drugs and how to monitor for those side effects. Also ask your veterinarian about alternate plans should side effects be experienced by your cat.

Be aware that both the underlying chronic uveitis, as well as the glaucoma, are diseases that may require long-term therapy and monitoring.