squinting in cats

Ocular (Eye) Pain and Squinting in Cats

Overview of Feline Eye Pain and Squinting

The most obvious signs of pain associated with eye conditions are squinting and holding the eyelids closed. Squinting may occur from both external and internal irritation of the eye. Other potential signs of ocular pain include tearing, pawing at the eye, rubbing the face, reluctance to eat hard foods or fully open the mouth, and reluctance to be petted. Eye pain may make the animal very sensitive to light, and the cat may try to avoid bright light. This symptom, called photophobia, is commonly associated with serious eye diseases.

It is not always easy to tell if your pet is experiencing eye pain and sometimes all you may notice are subtle behavioral changes. It is instinctual for many animals to withdraw and become more reclusive when they are experiencing eye pain or discomfort. Behavioral changes such as sleeping more, hiding, decreased appetite, reduced playfulness and an aggressive disposition are often more subtle demonstrations of eye discomfort. The realization that these subtle expressions are connected to eye disease may only occur after the eye condition has resolved and the pet has resumed his “normal” pattern of behavior .

Causes of Eye Pain and Squinting in Cats

There are many different causes of eye pain. A few are described below:

Diagnosis of Eye Pain and Squinting in Cats

Treatment of Eye Pain and Squinting in Cats

Home Care

Recommendations for home care depend upon the underlying cause of the problem. Seeking immediate veterinary medical attention is critical, as many causes of eye pain and squinting are vision threatening and most require specific medical and/or surgical treatment.

Gently clean away excessive eye discharge with a warm moist cloth to prevent crusting and caking of the hair around the eyes. Cease all attempts if the cat becomes aggressive or if pain seems to worsen with these efforts.

If vision appears to be impaired, minimize stress and risk of injury by confining the pet to a safe area until the cause of the problem is determined. Keep the cat in a dimly lit area or room to help relieve any photophobia.

In-depth Information on Eye Pain and Squinting in Cats

Squinting and photophobia can affect one or both eyes simultaneously. Sometimes both eyes are squinty even if only one eye is painful. However, the squinting is usually more dramatic in the diseased eye. It is important to monitor pets closely for subtle behavioral changes since it is instinctual for many animals to withdraw and become more reclusive when they are experiencing eye pain or discomfort.

Numerous ophthalmic diseases result in eye pain. Diseases involving the eyelids, cornea, conjunctiva, iris and front chamber of the eye, and orbit result in the most overt symptoms of eye pain. A thorough ophthalmic and physical examination is necessary to determine which diagnostic tests are needed to determine the cause of the pain.

In younger animals, ocular trauma, inherited or congenital defects, and infectious diseases are common causes of eye pain. In older pets, chronic inflammations, immune-mediated and neoplastic (cancerous) diseases may be more common.

Causes of Ocular Pain and Squinting in Cats

The following are some of the most important causes of eye pain:

Diagnosis In-depth

Diagnostic tests used to determine the cause of the eye pain are chosen by your veterinarian based on the findings from the ophthalmic examination, physical examination, prior history of ophthalmic disease, and response to prior treatment. Be sure to inform your veterinarian of all medications currently being administered to your pet.

Treatment In-depth

Do not delay in bringing the pet to a veterinarian for examination as many causes of a painful eye are vision threatening and require immediate medical attention. Many causes of acute (sudden) eye pain are considered medical emergencies and in certain circumstances require surgical intervention to preserve vision. For surgical therapy to be the most successful, time is of the essence. If vision cannot be saved, prompt presentation of the pet for medical attention increases the likelihood that the ball or globe may be preserved.

Follow-up Care for Cats with Eye Pain