Retinal Detachment in Cats

Feline Retinal Detachments

Retinal detachment is the separation of the retina, the innermost layer of the back of eye from the underlying pigmented epithelium and choroid. The choroid is a darkly colored, vascular layer that furnishes nutrition to the retina. Retinal detachment in cats occurs most often from the accumulation of fluid under the retina, due to some pathologic process either in the eye or somewhere else in the body. Therefore, in most cats, the presence of a retinal detachment is often a sign of a serious underlying disease. The underlying disease may be more of a threat to the health of the cat than the actual detachment.

Congenital Causes of Retinal Detachment in Cats

It is rare for cats to be born with retinal detachments or to develop them shortly after birth. There are instances, however, in which these types of detachments can occur:

Circulatory Causes of Retinal Detachment in Cats

Infectious Causes of Retinal Detachment in Cats

Degenerative Causes of Retinal Detachment in Cats

Toxic Causes of Retinal Detachment in Cats

Cancerous Causes of Retinal Detachment in Cats

Traumatic Causes of Retinal Detachment in Cats

What to Watch For

Diagnosis of Feline Retinal Detachments

Once a retinal detachment is diagnosed in your cat, then an extensive search is required to identify any underlying diseases. Tests to be considered include the following:

Treatment of Feline Retinal Detachments

Therapy must be instituted as early in the disease process as possible, or the detached retina will deteriorate and the cat will be permanently blind. Treatment is usually directed at the underlying cause of the retinal detachment. The detachment itself is very difficult to treat. Depending on the physical condition of the patient, treatment options may include outpatient care or may necessitate hospitalization.

If the detachment is due to high blood pressure, then medications are instituted to lower the blood pressure. As the blood pressure is being controlled, systemic anti-inflammatory medications may be used to try to decrease the damage done to the retina.

Specific therapy for the underlying condition can include the following, depending upon the underlying cause:

Some types of retinal detachments are not treatable. Examples include the congenital detachments and detachments associated with degeneration of the retina.

Home Care

Pets with recent onset of blindness should be evaluated by your veterinarian as soon as possible. Minimize stress and injury by confining your pet to a safe area until the cause of the problem is determined.

Administer all medication and return for follow-up examinations as directed by your veterinarian. Prognosis for return of vision is guarded. Although some retinas reattach once therapy has been started, it is rare for vision to return. Because the detachment may also signify the presence of a serious illness in the cat, the prognosis for the cat’s overall health may also be poor to guarded.

In general, high blood pressure is a very treatable disease and cats may remain in reasonably in good health. They may be blind, however. 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 their blindness.

Other diseases may not respond to therapy as well, and the life of the cat may be shortened.

Supervision of irreversibly blind cats is important.