Anterior uveitis is inflammation that affects the front or anterior part of the eye called the uvea, which is the dark tissue of the eye that contains blood vessels. The iris - the tissue that makes up the pupil - is typically involved. The posterior part of the eye may or may not be affected.
The causes of anterior uveitis include:
The eyes of cats are affected by more viruses than other animals. Such viruses include feline leukemia virus, feline immunodeficiency virus, and feline infectious peritonitis virus. The protozoal parasite, toxoplasmosis, is one of the most common causes of anterior uveitis in the cat.
Older cats are more likely to have tumors and indoor/outdoor pets are more likely to be exposed to infectious causes than pets housed strictly indoors. Also, in certain regions of the world specific infectious diseases are more common.
Anterior uveitis can be painful for your pet and may threaten vision. Just as important, this problem can also be a sign of a disease that is affecting the rest of the your pet's body.
Diagnostic tests are needed to recognize anterior uveitis, and exclude other diseases. Tests may include:
Treatments for anterior uveitis may include symptomatic or specific therapy and surgical intervention:
It is important that you follow your veterinarian's instructions and learn to medicate your pet properly. It is not always easy to put medications into an animal's eye, but it is imperative the medications be given.
Examine your pet's eyes every day and look for subtle changes. See your veterinarian for follow-up appointments to re-examine eye.
You have some control over your pet's environment. Cats can be protected from many of the infectious diseases that cause anterior uveitis by keeping them indoors.
Prevent trauma to eye; use caution when throwing balls or other objects.
A diagnosis of anterior uveitis simply means there is inflammation inside the eye. Numerous diseases can manifest as uveitis, so it can be difficult to diagnose the underlying cause. Some of the diseases mentioned below may be confined to the eye. However, in other cases, the condition may affect multiple parts of the body and the eye is but one aspect of disease. A pet may have either predominately ocular signs (those pertaining to the eye) or multisystemic signs such as weakness, lethargy, decreased appetite, coughing, fever or other problems.
Infectious causes of anterior uveitis are numerous. Some common causes include:
Other causes of anterior uveitis include:
Lymphoma - The iris is generally thickened and there may be focal yellowish, white or pink discoloration.
Melanoma - The iris is generally thickened and darker brown than usual.
Adenoma or adenocarcinoma - Often appears as a pink white mass peaking through the pupil from behind the iris.
Diagnostic tests are needed to diagnose anterior uveitis and exclude other diseases. These tests include:
Treatments for anterior uveitis may include one or more of the following:
Symptomatic therapy, regardless of the cause. Symptomatic therapy includes general supportive care of a sick animal such as fluids, nutritional support, antibiotics and pain relief. Examples of symptomatic therapy for the eye may include:
Specific therapy is used when there is a definitive diagnosis or high suspicion of a specific cause. Some examples:
Proper medication administration is essential. Cats with anterior uveitis may need frequent medicating, such as drops to the eyes four times daily, and this can be difficult with our busy schedules. Speak to your veterinarian or veterinary ophthalmologist to work out a good plan.
Since pets can't vocalize their problems, noticing even mild behavioral changes can be a sign that there is systemic disease and not just eye disease. Cats that aren't feeling well may stop eating or drinking, may hide under furniture, may not let you pet them, may act depressed, or may sleep more than usual.
Become comfortable looking at your pet's eyes. Inflammation inside of the eye can rapidly change and lead to secondary disease like glaucoma, so it is important to be able to recognize and to describe to your veterinarian or veterinary ophthalmologist what has changed. Frequent rechecks are generally necessary to determine a cause, adjust medications and monitor progression of the disease.
See your veterinarian as soon as possible if you notice a change in the eye, such as the eye looking red and irritated, or if the cat is squinting and holding the eye closed, or if your cat is scratching at it.