Pet Care

Blindness

All white cat with green eyes looking around corner

What Is Blindness?

Blindness in cats is a partial or total loss of vision that can be present from birth or occur suddenly due to injury or illness, or gradually from old age or progressive diseases such as hypertension, cataracts or glaucoma.

How Can I Tell If My Cat’s Vision Is Failing?

Since cats usually compensate and adapt successfully, a gradual loss of vision can be difficult to detect. Sudden loss of vision may cause more obvious signs. Here are a few signs that your pet’s vision may be failing:

  • Misjudging heights and bumping into walls, furniture or other objects
  • Confusion in new surroundings
  • Reluctance to move from one spot
  • General clumsiness and disorientation
  • Easily startled
  • Eye rubbing or squinting
  • Cloudy, discolored, inflamed or tearing eyes
  • Large pupils that do not respond to light

What Causes Blindness In Cats?

Though blindness can be a congenital condition or part of the aging process, there are many conditions that can lead to vision loss in cats:

  • Feline Progressive Retinal Atrophy (uncommon, only seen in certain breeds)
  • Trauma
  • Taurine deficiency
  • Untreated eye infections or blocked tear ducts
  • Glaucoma
  • Cataracts
  • Diabetes mellitus (in rare cases)
  • High blood pressure secondary to other diseases
  • Cancer or other tumor
  • Inflammation within the eye
  • Infectious disease
  • Drug reaction

Which Cats Are Prone To Blindness?

Cats of any breed and age can become blind. However, certain diseases that cause blindness are more commonly seen in elderly cats. Bengal, Abyssinian and Persian cats are genetically predisposed to retinal atrophy.

How Is Blindness Diagnosed?

Your vet will perform a preliminary exam of your cat may run diagnostic tests such as blood work and blood pressure measurement. If necessary, your vet will recommend a veterinary ophthalmologist who will perform a more detailed assessment.

How Can I Create a Safe Environment for My Blind Cat?

You can help your cat feel secure in his surroundings by providing a stable, obstacle-free environment. Most cats can adapt very well with their other senses.

  • Give extra attention and TLC, especially for elderly pets.
  • Avoid moving furniture.
  • Don’t leave boxes, toys or other objects in walking paths.
  • Speak to your cat when you enter the room and before petting or touching him.
  • Refrain from making sudden loud noises, which can be startling.
  • Do not allow your cat access to the outdoors.
  • Keep food, water and litter box all in the same, easily accessible place.
  • Let him smell visitors’ hands before they touch him.
  • Block access to stairs or other perilous places in the home.
  • Encourage your cat to use his other senses, scent and sound, as much as possible.

Can Blind Cats Ever Get Their Vision Back?

Loss of vision in cats can be reversible, depending on the cause. Cataracts, which cause mild to total vision loss, can be removed by surgery. Check with your veterinarian to find the most appropriate treatment for your cat’s condition.

How Can Blindness Be Prevented?

Pet parents should not let eye infections go untreated and any signs of diabetes, although a rare cause of blindness in cats, should be investigated. Examine your cat’s eyes regularly, and take him to the vet if his eyes look cloudy or if you see any changes in his overall activity or attitude. A regular visit to the veterinarian, even if no problems are noted, can help to detect any early problems and keep your cat in the best of health.