A closer look: Enlargement or Bulging of the Eye in Cats
Buphthalmos and exophthalmos are uncommon in cats. Cats exhibiting symptoms of eye bulging or protrusion require emergency veterinary care for the best chance of vision preservation and a positive outcome.
Bulging or protrusion of the eye(s) can vary from barely noticeable to extreme, and can be bilateral or unilateral. Push-face breeds like Persian or Scotch fold cats are at higher risk of bulging eyes due to facial abnormalities.
Testing and diagnosis
Diagnosis of a protruding or bulging eye can be made by gross observation. Identifying the root cause is important to determine treatment as well as prevent future incidents. A thorough ocular examination is required. Further testing is often needed, sometimes requiring specialized equipment; referral to a veterinary ophthalmologist may also be necessary.
Diagnostic tests may include X-rays, ultrasound, MRI, or CT to view inside and behind the eye. Swabs from the surface of the eye or biopsies of tissues around the eye may also be recommended.
Treatment in general centers around trying to save the affected eye. This may involve antibiotics, antifungals, topical drops or ointments, chemotherapy, or surgery. In many cases, the ultimate result is surgical removal of the eye (enucleation). Cats adapt well to living with lost or decreased vision.
Depending on the underlying cause, euthanasia may be the best option.
Bulging eye is self-evident and not likely to be confused with other symptoms. Pet parents might not be able to determine if their cat has buphthalmos versus exophthalmos without veterinary consultation.