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Cat with cataracts in one eye

The essentials

  • Eye problems are one of the most common health issues in cats — Cataracts, glaucoma, and uveitis are three of the most common eye problems felines experience.
  • Cloudy eyes are relatively easy to spot — Often, a cloudy eye is one of the first symptoms cat owners notice of a medical condition.
  • If you notice a cloudy eye, call your vet — Your pet’s veterinarian can perform a physical examination to diagnose or rule out cat eye disease or other health issues.

If a cat’s eye appears cloudy, it’s a red flag. Generally, a haziness in cats’ eyes could be symptomatic of a more significant underlying problem. Cloudiness can appear in a small or more prominent part of one or both eyes — you may notice cloudy lenses or a tiny spec of haziness that gets gradually bigger over time.

Though vision loss and disease risk increase with age, these health issues are not simply old cat problems. Cats of any age can experience cloudy eyes and the range of diseases and infections that go with it. Therefore, a cloudy eye in cats is a symptom pet owners should know about and seek vet care for should they notice it.

Causes of cloudy eyes in cats 

The causes of cloudy eyes range from mild to more severe cases of eye problems in cats. A cat’s veterinarian can make a proper diagnosis and recommend the best treatment, should one be available. In some cases, early detection increases the chances of favorable health outcomes.

  • Age-related changes. Older cats are at a higher risk for conditions like senile cataracts and glaucoma. Old age also increases a kitty’s risk of underlying conditions like diabetes, which can affect a cat’s eyes.
  • Cataracts. Cataracts occur when the lens of the eye gets cloudier over time. The lens is the part of the eye behind the iris that changes shape to focus light onto the retina over time. This condition can cause a cat’s vision to become blurry and can lead to blindness without treatment, such as cataract surgery.
  • Uveitis. Uveitis in a cat eye occurs when the uvea, a part of the eye that includes the iris and ciliary body, develops inflammation. Blinking and squinting are other common symptoms associated with this condition.
  • Glaucoma. This irreversible condition is most common in middle-aged and senior cats around 8 years of age or older. It happens when a cat’s eye can’t drain fluid as it should. The buildup puts increased pressure on the optic nerve. Though not curable, the good news is that a vet can offer treatments to slow vision loss and reduce chronic pain.
  • Conjunctivitis Commonly called pink eye, conjunctivitis symptoms include excessive tearing, cloudy eyes, and inflammation. It’s usually caused by viral infections like feline herpes virus or upper respiratory disease. Some long-haired breeds, like Persians, are more likely to be born with turned-in eyelids that make it easier for foreign agents to become stuck, triggering pink eye.
  • Eye injuries — Eye injuries, such as trauma from incidents with other animals, can cause eye damage, leading to corneal edema (swelling) and cloudy eyes.
  • Keratitis (corneal ulceration) — A corneal ulcer occurs when the eye’s outer layer becomes inflamed. Pet owners may notice symptoms like cloudy eyes, redness, excessive tearing, and blurry vision. A cat may feel pain as if a foreign object is stuck in their eye. Abrasions or ulcers are very irritating to the cat
  • Luxated lens. Luxated lens, or lens displacement, has various causes, such as glaucoma and age. Your vet can recommend the best treatment, which may include surgery.
  • Corneal sequestrum. This rare condition is associated with feline herpesvirus infection and occurs when a piece of the cornea dies. Eye color changes are another common symptom.
  • Feline leukemia virus. One of the most common infectious diseases in cats, feline leukemia virus, can trigger eye conditions, like inflammation of the uvea, which can lead to blindness and swollen third eyelids.
  • Feline Infectious Peritonitis. This infectious disease is a feline coronavirus. Cloudy eyes and iris color changes are among the common symptoms.
  • Lenticular sclerosis. Also known as nuclear sclerosis, this condition is a common sign of aging in cats (and dogs). Lenticular sclerosis is a clinical term for blue, transparent haziness that occurs on the lens of older pets.

Symptoms associated with cloudy eyes in cats 

Unsure if there’s cause for concern or if perhaps you’re just seeing things when you notice haziness in your cat’s eyes? Take note if your cat is experiencing any of these other symptoms that may occur with cloudy eyes in cats and gauge the need for vet attention.

  • Changes in eye appearance. Changes in your pet’s eye color, redness, and inflammation are all signs your feline friend may have another condition that requires care.
  • Squinting or blinking. These two symptoms are signs your cat has trouble seeing or irritated eyes.
  • Altered behavior. Energy levels and appetite are indicators of a cat’s general health—changes to warrant medical attention.
  • Discharge. Any discharge that’s bloody, red, or green in conjunction with (or without) cloudiness of the eye is a sign of a potential problem, like conjunctivitis.
  • Excessive tearing. Does it look like your cat is crying? Excessive tearing is symptomatic of viral infections like feline herpesvirus.
  • Lameness. Joint swelling or lameness, plus a cloudy eye in cats, could indicate something more severe, such as feline leukemia virus.
  • Fever. A fever with a cloudy eye could be a sign of feline infectious peritonitis or conjunctivitis. It’s best to seek immediate medical care.

Diagnosis of cloudy eyes in cats 

You can find tons of cat eye infection pictures on Google, but a vet is the best person to help you get to the root cause of the cloudy eye in your cat.

Before your vet visit, write down when you noticed the cloudiness in your cat’s eyes, whether it’s changed over time, and if they have other symptoms such as behavioral changes or discharge. The vet will do a physical examination and, depending on what they find, might recommend diagnostic testing to get a better idea of what they’re dealing with (urine samples, corneal stains, bloodwork, viral testing, etc.).

Sometimes, a precise cause of a cloudy eye in cats is never found, but other times, diagnostic tests can reveal an underlying cause. In some cases, your regular vet may refer you to a veterinary ophthalmologist in order to figure out what’s causing your kitty’s eye problems.

Treatment options for cloudy eyes in cats

Treatment for a cloudy eye in cats will vary depending on the diagnosis.

  • Medical treatments. A veterinarian may be able to prescribe treatment to help your cat with their eye condition or other symptoms, helping them either heal or manage their condition to live a more comfortable life. Eye drops can reduce pain in issues like glaucoma and help with mild cases of corneal sequestrum.
  • Surgical interventions. In some cases, like cataracts, surgery is the best treatment.
  • Home care and management. Sometimes, such as with glaucoma, vision loss will happen. The good news is that cat’s other senses, such as hearing and smell, will help them explore their world. Patience and general safety, such as keeping your kitty’s food and litter in the same accessible spots, will help them as they lean into their memory and other senses to find their essentials.

Prognosis and managing cloudy eyes in cats 

Some conditions, like conjunctivitis, are treatable and will heal within weeks. Others, like glaucoma, are permanent and will get progressively worse. Work with your vet, being sure to administer any prescription medications they may send you home with.

If your cat had surgery, they might need to wear an Elizabethan collar for a period to prevent them from aggravating the area. Though the kitty may not enjoy it, keeping the collar on is essential. A cat may also be tired post-surgery — be patient. Regardless of the condition, keep up with prescription treatments as instructed.

If your cat has permanent vision loss, arrange essential items like food and water in a consistent spot that doesn’t require stairs or obstacles like boxes to access. Though it’s tempting to “help” your cat by carrying them to another room, allow your feline to walk themselves. It’ll help them learn where they are on their own terms at all times.

Consult with your vet if you have questions or concerns or if your cat develops concerning symptoms, like a loss of appetite or lameness.

Preventing cloudy eyes in cats 

You can’t protect your cat from all the causes of cloudy eyes. Some, like age and genetic predisposition, are out of your hands. However, there are ways pet owners can help their cats avoid eye issues.

  • Schedule regular vet visits. Your vet will perform physical examinations to assess your cat’s general health one to two times annually — or more if your pet has an underlying condition or gets injured. This exam will include a look at the eyes. Early detection can sometimes improve a cat’s prognosis.
  • Maintain a healthy diet. A healthy diet of cat food can reduce the risk of conditions like diabetes, which can contribute to eye disease in cats.
  • Protect your cat’s eyes. Keep sharp objects and hazardous chemicals away out of sight, mind, and reach of your cat to prevent eye injuries.

Frequently asked questions 

What does it mean if my cat’s eyes are cloudy?

Cats with cloudy eyes may have a small or large amount of haziness in one or both eyes. The exact cause requires a veterinarian diagnosis, but common reasons for cloudy eyes in cats include cataracts, injury, or glaucoma.

How do you treat cloudy eyes in cats?

It depends on the root cause of the cloudy eye. Medications, at-home care, and surgery are all potential treatments for cloudy eyes in cats.

How do I know if my cat has lenticular sclerosis?

A veterinarian can diagnose your cat with lenticular sclerosis, a condition common in older cats that refers to cloudiness around the lens.

What can cause a cloudy eye?

Cloudy eyes in cats have several causes, from feline leukemia virus, genetic predisposition to cataracts or glaucoma, or an eye injury, such as a car accident. Bloodwork, urine samples, and other testing can help pet parents and vets reach a proper diagnosis, though sometimes one isn’t found.