Retinal Hemorrhage in Cats

Feline Retinal Hemorrhage

Retinal hemorrhage is bleeding into an area of the retina, the part of the eye that lies in the back of the eye and is responsible for receiving light. The retina acts like the film in a camera. Bleeding within the retina may originate from either the blood vessels of the retina or the choroid, which lies behind the retina. The bleeding may come from arteries, veins, or capillaries (the smallest of the blood vessels).

Retinal hemorrhages in cats often arise from some pathologic process either in the eye or somewhere else in the body. Therefore, in many cats, the presence of retinal hemorrhages 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 hemorrhage.

Retinal hemorrhages may involve one or both eyes. The age of onset varies widely and depends upon the ocular problem or underlying cause. Retinal hemorrhages are frequently associated with inflammation of the retina and choroid, and may be accompanied by detachment of the retina. See related article on retinal detachment in the cat.

Causes of Retinal Hemorrhage in Cats

What to Watch For

Diagnosis of Feline Retinal Hemorrhage

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

Treatment of Feline Retinal Hemorrhage

Treatment is usually directed at the underlying cause of the retinal hemorrhage. Depending on the physical condition of the patient, treatment options may include outpatient care or may necessitate hospitalization.

Home Care

Administer all medication as prescribed by your veterinarian. Return for follow up as directed to ensure that the hemorrhages and underlying condition are responding to treatment.

During the recovery period it is important to keep the cat quiet and confined, to avoid placing extensive force around the cat’s neck (replace collars with harnesses), to prevent violent shaking of the head so that further bleeding into the retina does not occur.

Small hemorrhages usually disappear within a few weeks to several months. Larger hemorrhages may take months or longer to resolve, and may predispose the eye to retinal detachment.