Cornea Problems in Cats
Keratitis is an inflammation of the cornea, or clear window of the eye. This
is a painful eye condition and should be distinguished from conjunctivitis.
Signs of keratitis include squinting, discharge, rubbing
the eye, and protrusion of the third eyelid. Conjunctivitis, on the other hand,
is characterized by a chronic eye discharge with little, if any, pain.
There are different types of keratitis. All result in loss of transparency
of the cornea, which may lead to partial or complete blindness in the affected
eye. Keratitis must be managed by a veterinarian. Initially, topical drops or
ointments may need to be given as frequently as hourly or every two hours.
An injury to the surface of the eye can result in the development of an
abrasion or ulcer that does not heal and becomes secondarily infected. Trauma
is the most common cause of ulcerative keratitis in cats.
An infectious form of ulcerative keratitis is caused by feline herpesvirus.
The signs of respiratory infection occur
before or at the same time as eye involvement. One or both eyes may be
Treatment: This involves antiviral eye medications, possibly including the
new drug cidofovir. Vaccination for the herpesvirus will help but does not
totally prevent this disease. Adding lysine to the diet may help, as this amino
acid competes with the amino acid arginine, which is essential for herpesvirus