Hypopyon in Cats

Hypopyon in Cats

Hypopyon is the accumulation of white blood cells within the liquid of the anterior (front) chamber of the eye. The cells are released from inflamed blood vessels located within the iris and tissues behind the iris.

When inflammation of the iris and ciliary body occurs (also called anterior uveitis), their blood vessels “leak” cells and protein into the anterior chamber. In small quantities, the accumulation of cells in the anterior chamber fluid results in a cloudy or hazy appearance to the eye. When inflammation is severe, larger quantities of white blood cells are released from iris blood vessels and gravity causes them to accumulate on the bottom of the chamber or fill it entirely. Hypopyon usually appears white-to-yellow in color. Some clumps of cells may stick to the back of the cornea, producing tiny specks on the cornea.

In addition to cells, certain proteins are released from inflamed blood vessels that transform into strands called fibrin within the anterior chamber. Fibrin is commonly observed in cats with hypopyon in eyes with severe anterior uveitis.

Hypopyon can develop in any eye with severe uveitis. For that reason, hypopyon represents a symptom of serious ophthalmic disease. Hypopyon is often caused by bacterial infections of the eye, or by systemic viral, fungal, bacterial, parasitic and protozoal infections that may manifest in the eyes. Therefore, diagnostic tests are often essential in determining the underlying cause of this symptom.

Severe corneal ulceration also results in hypopyon.

What to Watch For

Diagnosis of Hypopyon in Cats

Diagnostic tests for hypopyon may include:

Your veterinarian may recommend other diagnostic tests on a case-by-case basis. Tests may include:

Treatment of Hypopyon in Cats

Preliminary treatment for hypopyon is usually initiated while the results of specific diagnostic tests are pending. These include:

Home Care for Hypopyon in Cats

Do not delay in bringing the cat to a veterinarian for examination as most causes of hypopyon are potentially vision threatening and require immediate medical attention.