Poor Smokey was brought into 387 Vets as his eyes were causing him considerable distress. Examination showed that he had damaged the cornea, or the front of his eye. In fact, he hadn’t just damaged one eye, but both! The surfaces had been broken or scratched causing deep corneal ulcers which measured an incredible 4mm in each eye.
Damage to the cornea is very painful as the eye is so sensitive. We immediately hospitalised Smokey so that our nurses could administer hourly localised treatment to relieve Smokey’s distress. In addition to pain relief and oral antibiotics, we applied strong infection-attacking antibiotic drops and a soothing lubricant directly into Smokey’s eyes. We also administered separated blood which helps to stop the ulcer from spreading and becoming more difficult to repair.
Small ulcers can heal quickly as neighbouring healthy cells ‘slide’ to cover any defect. However, larger ulcers take much longer to disappear as they can only be healed by cell multiplication. This process is especially slow in the eye because the cornea does not have its own blood supply i.e. there are no blood vessels on the front of the eye. Instead, the body adapts and grows temporary blood vessels across the cornea to reach and repair any large, ulcerated area. This is exactly what was starting to happen with Smokey’s eyes.
Fortunately, Smokey’s eyes are responding effectively to the combination of medication and his ulcers are healing well. Clear, comfortable sight restored!
What causes corneal ulcers?
Corneal ulceration and inflammation can occur for a number of reasons ranging from general trauma to contact with toxins, illness, physical abnormalities or infection.
In Smokey’s case, however, the most likely cause of his ulcers was Feline Herpes Virus (the main cause of cat flu) or a nasty bacterial infection or chemical damage (e.g. contact with caustic or acidic substances).
The Feline Herpes Virus can be easily contracted – from infected cats passing on the virus to their unborn kittens; from infected food bowls, litter trays and bedding or from direct contact with oral and respiratory discharge from infected cats shedding the virus. As subsequent cat flu can potentially kill, it’s important to make sure your cat’s vaccinations are up to date.