- Watch for any unusual symptoms — These may include swelling around the eyes, dilated pupils, discharge, and more.
- Seek veterinary advice as soon as possible — Most eye conditions are treatable but they can progress quickly.
- Certain types of cats are more prone to eye disorders — This is due to their abnormal facial structures.
- Post-op care is vital — Medication and care are required for at least a couple of weeks after surgery.
Why would my cat need eye surgery?
Several conditions that can affect your cat’s eyes, including cataracts, corneal ulcers, and progressive retinal atrophy. While many of these issues can be resolved with medication or eye drops, sometimes surgery is the only option.
Google “cat eye surgery” and you are likely to find articles about a plastic surgery procedure known as a cat eye lift, or fox eye lift. This is intended to raise the outer corners of your eyelids, giving humans a permanent cat eye look!
For our kitties, cat eye surgery refers to a variety of medical procedures used to treat eye disorders. These procedures often involve the removal of a foreign body (such as a tumor or cataract) or the re-stitching of parts of the eye. Anesthesia is required for all surgical procedures, followed by pain medication and antibiotics.
Surgery may be covered by pet insurance — if your cat isn’t covered, check out our guide on the best pet insurance to find the right fit for you and your cat!
🚨 Eye problems in cats must be taken seriously. A delay in seeking medical advice could lead to further complications and even vision loss.
Symptoms of eye problems in cats
If you notice any of these symptoms in your cat, seek advice from a vet as soon as possible:
- Rapid blinking or keeping one (or both) eye(s) closed
- Visible third eyelid
- Redness or swelling
- Discharge or weeping from the eyes
- Dilated pupils
- Cloudiness in the eyes
- A noticeable lump in or around the eye
Types of cat eye surgeries
There are many different forms of cat eye surgery, depending on the issue at hand. The variety can seem a little overwhelming! So, here are a few of the more common surgical eye procedures performed on cats:
Cataract removal does what it says – it’s a procedure to remove cataracts from your kitty’s eye(s).
The term cataract refers to the increasing cloudiness of the eye’s lens. This is the structure responsible for focusing light on the retina and allowing your cat to see clearly. Cataracts are more likely to affect older cats and those with previous dehydration issues or diabetes.
Cataract removal is an invasive procedure performed by a veterinary ophthalmologist. It involves taking out the cataract (phacoemulsification ) and replacing it with an artificial lens. Pet owners will need to apply topical eye medication to the affected area for a few months after surgery. The procedure has more than a 90% success rate.
Cherry eye surgery
Cherry eye is a term used to describe a prolapse of the third eyelid. It’ll appear as a swollen red lump protruding from the corner of one or both eyes.
The third eyelid acts as an extra protective layer for your pet’s eyes. It also works to keep the cornea lubricated. When it prolapses, the delicate tissue is open to infection and can be incredibly painful for your cat. This condition can lead to permanent eye damage if left untreated. Luckily, in many cases, it can be gently pushed back into place, but chronic cases may require surgery.
Cherry eye surgery involves suturing the prolapsed eyelid back into its normal position. During the recovery stage, your cat may need to wear an Elizabethan collar (known by many as the cone of shame) to prevent them from scratching at the stitches.
Entropion is a condition in which the eyelids roll inward. It can affect either the upper or lower eyelids and often causes painful irritation to the cornea. The most common type is spastic entropion, which develops as a result of another eye condition, such as an ulcer. The increased friction causes muscle spasms in the eye that eventually lead to the eyelids rolling inwards. It’s more commonly seen in brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds due to their unusually shallow eye sockets.
During an entropion surgical procedure, an incision is made to remove a small flap of skin and hair near the eyelid. This allows the eyelid to drop back into its normal position. Continued lubrication of the eye after surgery can prevent the condition from developing again.
Conversely, ectropion is the rolling outwards of the eyelids. It mostly affects the lower eyelids. Ectropion is pretty rare in cats, but it can leave the delicate tissue open to infection when it does happen.
In mild cases, a topical lubricant is often prescribed to keep the eye tissue moist. In severe cases, ectropion surgery is performed to shorten the lower eyelid and prevent drooping.
Eyelid tumor removal
Cats are less likely to develop eyelid tumors than dogs. But, when they do develop, they’re more likely to be cancerous. These tumors can rub against the eye, causing infection and permanent damage.
Eyelid tumors caused by squamous cell carcinoma (a type of skin cancer) are particularly common in older white cats, especially if they spend most of their time outdoors.
During an eyelid tumor removal surgery, a veterinarian will remove all traces of the tumor before restructuring and stitching the eyelid back up. Chemotherapy may be required if cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
Enucleation is the permanent surgical removal of an eye. It may sound a little extreme, but sometimes it’s the best option depending on your cat’s situation. An eye may need to be removed for many reasons, including glaucoma, trauma to the eye, or eye ulcers caused by herpes viral conjunctivitis.
Two main types of enucleation can be performed:
Transconjunctival. The eye orbit is removed but most of the conjunctiva remains.
Transpalpebral. The entire eye is removed, including the conjunctiva. This approach is preferred when cancer cells or infectious organisms are present.
After surgery, an Elizabethan collar will need to be worn until the stitches are removed. It’s best to keep your cat permanently indoors after an enucleation procedure as their vision and balance will be affected.
Cost of cat eye surgeries
There’s no doubt that cat eye surgeries can be expensive! However, they’re often necessary to protect the well-being of your feline companion. Vet costs will vary greatly between clinics so make sure you do your research before scheduling the necessary surgery. The final price will also be affected by your cats’ age and the presence of any underlying health conditions.
Here’s a guideline on the cost ranges you can expect to pay for various eye surgical procedures:
|Type of surgical procedure||Average cost range|
|Cataract removal||One eye: $2,000 - $2,500; Two eyes: $3000 - $3500|
|Cherry eye surgery||One eye: $300 - $500; Two eyes: $800 - $1,000|
|Entropion surgery||$1,000 - $2,000|
|Ectropion surgery||$500 - $1,000|
|Eyelid tumor removal||$500 - $600|
|Enucleation||$1,000 - $2,000|
Does pet insurance cover eye surgery?
While these prices can be daunting, the good news is that a lot of pet insurance companies will cover major surgeries, including eye surgery. Make sure you read through your insurance policy thoroughly so you don’t have an unpleasant surprise when it comes time to pay.
👉 Some insurance companies won’t pay for surgery if a cat has certain pre-existing conditions that may make eye surgery more likely, such as diabetes. That’s why it’s a good idea to explore pet insurance as soon as you bring a new cat home.
Preventing eye surgery in cats
Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to prevent eye conditions from developing because there are so many different causes. However, you can reduce the risk by taking a few simple steps:
- Schedule regular vet checkups
- Monitor your cat closely – The earlier you pick up on the signs, the better the prognosis for your kitty.
- Check for any hereditary conditions with your breeder
- Stay up to date with vaccinations and other treatments
- Keep your cat’s weight under control — Obesity can lead to complications, including eye problems.
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Frequently asked questions
How much is eye surgery for a cat?
The price of eye surgery will vary depending on the severity of your cat’s condition, as well as their age and health status. General anesthesia or local anesthesia is always included in eye surgeries due to the delicate nature of these procedures. Cherry eye surgeries start at around $300 for one eye. However, a full eye removal can set you back more than $2,000. You can discuss options with your veterinarian if you’re unsure, and investing in pet insurance early on can help cover some of the potential costs.
Is eye surgery for cats risky?
Most eye surgeries performed on cats have a high success rate. For example, 92.6% of cats that go in for cataract removal surgery have good outcomes. However, it is important to note that all surgeries carry an inherent risk. Older cats or those with underlying medical conditions are more prone to complications.
What types of eye surgery are there for cats?
There are many different eye surgeries for cats depending on the cause and diagnosis, from simple cherry eye surgeries to more complicated entropion procedures. You can discuss your cat’s individual needs with your local vet surgeon.
When would my cat need eye surgery?
There are several instances when your cat would need eye surgery but it’s important to remember that surgery is always a last resort. Depending on the severity of your cat’s eye issue, you may be offered different medications or eye ointments in the first instance. If these don’t work, you can speak to your local veterinarian about surgical options.