A closer look: Uveitis in Cats
The uvea describes the internal structures of the eyeball and includes the iris and the ciliary body behind it as well as the choroid body in the rear of the eye.
Anterior uveitis occurs at the front of the eye, resulting in visible reddened irritation, corneal edema, and dry eye.
Posterior uveitis is more difficult to see, as it originates toward the back of the eye. It can cause the pupil and iris to appear to bulge.
Uveitis often develops alongside serious medical conditions such as FeLV, FIP, injuries, infections, or poisoning. Uveitis itself is often not as concerning as these other conditions. Prompt veterinary assistance is warranted to identify the underlying cause and intervene early in an effort to prevent complications like loss of vision.
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Uveitis can cause pain and vision loss.
Symptoms of progressing eye disease include
- Pawing at the sore eye
- Excessive or abnormal blinking
- Avoiding bright lights (photophobia)
- Bumping into walls/furniture
- Difficulty navigating stairs
Vision loss in cats may be difficult to detect unless both eyes are affected.
Since uveitis is often associated with other infectious diseases, cats with a higher risk of these infections, such as outdoor, unaltered, and unvaccinated animals, are also at higher risk of uveitis.
Uveitis is also associated with other ocular conditions, such as cataracts or a displaced (luxated) lens.
Uveitis has a variety of potential causes, although that is not always possible to determine. Infections, including FeLV, FIV, and FIP are among the most common causes, although other viral, bacterial, parasitic, or fungal infections can also result in uveitis.
Symptoms of uveitis can occur gradually (chronic) or quickly (acute).
Testing and diagnosis
While an ophthalmic examination identifies uveitis, other diagnostics are often necessary to determine the underlying cause. These include physical examination, urinalysis, diagnostic imaging, and blood work.
Steps to Recovery
Treatment for uveitis focuses on reducing pain and inflammation, and preserving vision. Topical and oral steroidal and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications are the most common treatments.
When possible, treatment will be targeted at the underlying condition causing uveitis.
The prognosis for uveitis is variable, depending on the underlying cause and severity of the condition.
In mild cases of uveitis, the condition may improve within days of treatment. Follow-up monitoring may be required for weeks.
The prognosis for severe uveitis is more guarded, and may require surgical removal of the affected eye.
Due to the variety of different conditions which may result in uveitis, it is difficult to reliably prevent it. Indoor lifestyle and current vaccination helps avoid injury and exposure to infectious diseases associated with uveitis. Uveitis is not contagious, but conditions which result in uveitis may be. Routine health screening aids in early detection and maximizes outcomes.
Is Uveitis in Cats common?
Uveitis alone is not a common condition affecting cats, but it is common alongside other ocular conditions.
- Anti-inflammatory medication
- Treatment of underlying cause