What Is A Cat’S Bulging Eye Infection?

What is a Cat’s Bulging Eye Infection?

A cat’s bulging eye infection, also known as exophthalmos, is a condition where one or both of the cat’s eyes bulge or protrude abnormally. This is usually caused by inflammation behind the eye pushing the eyeball forward. Some common symptoms of a bulging eye infection in cats include visible protrusion or bulging of one or both eyes, redness, swelling, discharge, and eye pain.

Exophthalmos in cats has several potential causes, including infection, inflammation, trauma, tumors, and other eye diseases that create pressure behind the eye. It requires veterinary diagnosis and treatment to identify the underlying cause and prevent vision loss or other complications.

Causes of a Cat’s Bulging Eye

Some of the most common causes of a cat’s bulging eye include:

Bacterial infections – Infections caused by bacteria like Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, and Pasteurella can lead to abscess formation behind the eye, pushing the eye forward.[1] These infections may occur due to cat bite wounds, upper respiratory infections, or skin infections spreading to the eye area.

Viral infections – Feline herpesvirus and calicivirus are common upper respiratory viruses in cats that can cause inflammation and bulging of the eyes.[2] The viruses can damage the cornea and surrounding eye tissues.

Fungal infections – Fungal organisms like Cryptococcus can sometimes infect the area behind the eye, resulting in swelling and protrusion of the eyeball. This may occur alongside other systemic fungal infections.

Foreign objects – Grass seeds, foxtail barbs, dirt, or other debris entering and lodging behind the eye can lead to irritation, infection, and bulging of the eye over time if not promptly removed.

[1] https://wagwalking.com/cat/condition/eye-protrusion
[2] https://www.petmd.com/cat/conditions/eyes/bulging-eyes-cats

Symptoms of a Cat’s Bulging Eye

The most obvious symptom of a bulging eye in cats is protrusion or bulging of one or both eyes. This may occur suddenly or gradually over time. Other symptoms include:

  • Redness and inflammation – The bulging eye often appears red, inflamed and irritated.
  • Discharge/tearing – There may be a watery discharge or excessive tearing from the affected eye(s) (1).
  • Squinting or keeping eyes shut – A cat with a bulging eye may squint or keep the eyes tightly shut, especially if exposed to bright light.
  • Rubbing or scratching at eyes – Due to irritation and discomfort, the cat may frequently paw at or rub the bulging eye(s) (2).

In severe cases, the bulging may be outward, upward, downward or abnormal in appearance. Bulging is usually indicative of a more serious underlying eye condition or infection that requires veterinary assessment (3).

(1) https://wagwalking.com/cat/condition/eye-protrusion
(2) https://www.wikihow.com/Diagnose-and-Treat-Bulging-Eye-in-Cats
(3) https://www.petmd.com/cat/conditions/eyes/bulging-eyes-cats

Diagnosing a Cat’s Bulging Eye

If a cat is exhibiting symptoms of a bulging eye, the veterinarian will perform a thorough examination to diagnose the underlying cause. Some diagnostic tests the vet may use include:

Veterinary examination – The vet will look for signs of injury, infection, or abnormal tissue growth around the eye. They will check the cat’s pupils, lens clarity, and eye pressure. The vet may also check for dental issues or perform x-rays to look for skull fractures or cancerous growths.

Eye stain test – This test uses a dye to check for scratches or ulcers on the eye’s surface that could allow infection to set in. It can help identify the cause of inflammation. [1]

Blood tests – Blood work can detect infections or other systemic issues that may be contributing to the bulging eye. The vet will look for elevated white blood cell count or abnormalities that can indicate serious conditions.

Biopsy – If a tumor is suspected, the vet may take a tissue sample from around the eye to analyze the cells. This can confirm if cancer is causing the protrusion.

Once the underlying cause is pinpointed through these diagnostic tests, the vet will determine the appropriate treatment plan for the cat’s condition.

Treatment for a Cat’s Bulging Eye

There are several treatment options for a cat with a bulging eye depending on the underlying cause. Some common treatments include:

Antibiotics – If the bulging eye is caused by an infection, the vet will likely prescribe antibiotic eye drops or ointment to fight the infection. Common antibiotics used include gentamicin, tobramycin, and oxytetracycline. Antibiotics help control the infection and reduce inflammation.

Anti-inflammatory medication – Medication like corticosteroids may be prescribed to reduce inflammation and swelling around the eye. This helps reduce pain and discomfort.[1]

Antiviral/antifungal medication – If the cause is a viral or fungal infection, the vet may prescribe antiviral or antifungal eye medications.

Surgery – If the bulging eye is due to an eye injury, tumor, or glaucoma, surgery may be necessary. This can involve removing damaged tissue, draining fluid, or repositioning the eyeball back into the socket.[2]

In mild cases, medication alone may resolve the bulging eye. But in severe cases like eye luxation or trauma, surgery is often required to save the cat’s vision and prevent complications.

Home Care for a Cat’s Bulging Eye

There are some steps cat owners can take at home to help care for a cat with a bulging eye infection:

Applying warm compresses to the affected eye can help reduce swelling and discomfort. Use a clean washcloth soaked in warm water and gently hold it against the cat’s closed eye for 5-10 minutes at a time, 2-3 times per day. Be careful not to put any pressure on the eye (Source 1).

Keeping the cat’s eyes clean is important to prevent further infection. Use a soft, damp cloth to gently wipe away any discharge or crust around the eyes. Do not rub the eye itself. Use a separate cloth for each eye to avoid spreading infection (Source 2).

Isolating the cat with the bulging eye from other pets can help prevent the infection from spreading. Give the sick cat its own space away from other cats or dogs until the infection has cleared up.

Complications from a Cat’s Bulging Eye

If left untreated, a cat’s bulging eye infection can lead to some serious complications. Some of the main risks and complications include:

Vision Loss – One of the most common risks is permanent vision loss or blindness in the affected eye. This is often caused by untreated corneal ulcers, glaucoma, or damage to structures within the eye like the retina or optic nerve. According to VCA Animal Hospitals [1], severe cases left untreated can lead to rupture of the eyeball.

Eye Removal – Unfortunately, if the infection has progressed too far or the structures of the eye are damaged beyond repair, surgical removal of the eye (enucleation) may be necessary. This is obviously a last resort if the eye cannot be saved.

Spread of Infection – Bulging eye infections like conjunctivitis are very contagious between cats. Letting the infection go untreated risks it spreading to your other pets or cats in the home. It can also potentially spread inward to structures behind the eye like the sinuses or brain if left untreated [2].

The key is to have your vet examine any bulging eye ASAP, as prompt treatment will help avoid any of these vision or life-threatening complications for your cat.

Preventing a Cat’s Bulging Eye

There are several steps cat owners can take to help prevent their cat from developing a bulging eye condition:

Good hygiene: Keeping your cat’s face clean can help prevent infections that could cause a bulging eye. Gently wipe around your cat’s eyes daily with a soft, damp cloth. Avoid using soap or cleanser, as this can irritate their eyes.

Reduce exposure to irritants: Keep your home free of smoke, dust, and other airborne irritants that could cause eye inflammation or infection. Avoid using harsh cleaning products around your cat.

Annual vet exams: Bring your cat in for regular wellness exams with your veterinarian. Your vet can check for any eye issues and treat minor problems before they become serious. Regular exams also keep your cat’s vaccines up-to-date to prevent contagious illnesses.

With proper preventive care and hygiene practices, cat owners can reduce the likelihood of a bulging eye condition developing. However, some congenital or hereditary eye issues cannot be prevented entirely. Seek veterinary care right away if you notice any eye changes in your cat.

Prognosis for a Cat’s Bulging Eye

The prognosis for a cat’s bulging eye is generally good if treated promptly, according to PetMD. With timely veterinary attention and appropriate treatment, most cats will recover well. However, the prognosis worsens significantly if the condition is left untreated.

Even after treatment, bulging eyes may recur in some cats if the underlying cause is not fully resolved. For example, cats with an eye infection that is not completely cured may experience repeated bouts of bulging eyes. Cats with anatomical defects or tumors may require additional surgery or procedures to prevent the protrusion from returning. Close monitoring and follow-up care can help identify and address any lingering issues.

Overall, veterinary assessment paired with prompt and appropriate treatment provides a good prognosis for cats with bulging eyes in most cases. However, owners should watch for any signs of recurrence and seek veterinary advice if the condition persists or worsens.

When to See a Vet for a Cat’s Bulging Eye

A cat with a bulging eye is considered an emergency that requires immediate veterinary attention, according to PetMD
Some signs that indicate your cat needs to see the vet right away include:

Any eye swelling or bulging – This symptom points to an underlying condition causing pressure buildup behind the eye. It can lead to permanent damage if not treated promptly.

Redness, irritation, discharge – These signs suggest inflammation or infection, which can rapidly worsen without medication. Cats may resist opening their eyes or keep them shut if the eyes are irritated.

Squinting or pawing at eye – Your cat may squint or rub their eye if they are in pain or discomfort. The eye area is sensitive, so pawing is a clear sign of a problem.

Vision changes – If your cat’s pupil appears dilated or they seem unable to see as normal, the condition could be affecting their sight. Vision issues warrant an urgent vet visit.

In short, any eye abnormalities in cats should not be ignored and require veterinary attention within 24 hours, if not sooner, according to WagWalking
https://wagwalking.com/cat/condition/eye-protrusion. Catching a bulging eye early greatly improves the chances of preserving your cat’s vision and comfort.

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