Eyelid Problems and Squinting in Cats
Foreign Bodies in the Eye
Foreign material such as dust, grass seed, dirt, or specks of vegetable
matter can become trapped behind the eyelids and nictitating membranes.
Although this is more common in cats who go outdoors, indoor cats may get hairs
or dust in their eyes and on their corneas, as well. The first indication is
tearing and watering, along with signs of irritation such as blinking and squinting. The
third membrane may protrude to protect the irritated eye.
Treatment: You might be able to see a foreign body on the surface of the eye
or behind the upper or lower eyelid. If not, the foreign body may be caught
behind the third
eyelid, and the cat will need a topical eye anesthetic before you can lift
up the eyelid and remove the foreign matter. This is something your
veterinarian should do, especially if your cat is not cooperative with being
For dirt and loose debris in the eye, hold the eyelid open and flush the eye
with artificial tears, a sterile saline eye solution, or cool water for 10 to
15 minutes. Soak a wad of cotton and squeeze it into the eye, or drop it into
the eye from the bottle of solution. If a foreign body can be seen but cannot
be removed by irrigation, you may be able to remove it by gently swabbing the
eye with a moistened cotton-tipped applicator. The foreign body may adhere to
This condition, in which the eyelid rolls in, occurs sporadically as a
hereditary defect in Persians and related breeds, but it can occur in any cat
because of scarring of the lower lid following a bout of purulent conjunctivitis or a lacerated
eyelid. The rolled-in lid produces eye irritation with tearing and severe
Treatment: Entropion can be corrected surgically.
In cats with this condition, the lower eyelid rolls out from the face,
exposing the surface of the eye to irritants. It may be caused by a birth
defect, but in most cases it is due to an improperly healed laceration of the
lid. This condition is less common than entropion.
Treatment: Surgery may be necessary to tighten the lid and protect the