SIGNS OF CONJUNCTIVITIS
* Red eyes.
* Mucous or watery eye discharge.
* Thick yellowish-green eye discharge.
* Swollen eyes.
* Pawing and/or rubbing eyes.
CAUSES OF CONJUNCTIVITIS
* Conjunctivitis most often occurs secondary to viral upper respiratory infections (Cat Flu) due to Feline Herpes Virus and/or Calici Virus. Chlamydia and occasionally Mycoplasma may also be agents responsible.
* With Herpes and Calici Virus infections the respiratory or flu-like signs usually resolve, but the eye problems may never go away completely.
* This may occur because once a cat is infected with Herpes and/or Calici Virus; the virus can remain in a dormant or “resting” phase in the cat’s nasolacrimal duct, which is the passage between the eyes and the nose for the entire life of the cat. Whenever the cat becomes sick or is stressed, the virus is “activated” and the conjunctivitis recurs.
* Occasionally irritation from an inherited eyelid or eyelash disorder irritates the eye and causes conjunctivitis. Long-haired Persian cats seem to be prone. “Trichichiasis” is hereditary in this breed.
WHAT YOU AND YOUR VET CAN DO
* Diagnosis often involves gently scraping the conjunctiva and sending the specimen to the lab to determine the exact cause.
* A Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) is the newest, best and most accurate test available to diagnose Herpes Virus.
* Occasionally blood tests, viral cultures and/or a biopsy of the eye tissue are necessary to confirm the cause.
* Topical antiviral eye medications include:
* Idoxuridine – marketed under the name Herplex, Stoxil
* Trifluridine – marketed under the name Virotropic
* Vidarabine – marketed under the name Vira – A
These medications are expensive, but effective. Drops are usually applied three to four times daily for three to six weeks depending on the virus.
* Cats that do not respond to standard conjunctivitis treatments should be blood tested for Feline Leukemia and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus.
NOTE: Chronic and/or recurrent bouts of Conjunctivitis can lead to Dry Eye especially cases caused by Herpes Virus.