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Corneal Sequestrum in Cats

Feline corneal sequestrum is a serious threat to the health of your cat's eyes and their vision, but early treatment can help restore pain-free vision. Here, we explore the causes, signs, and treatment for this painful eye condition in cats.

A Corneal Sequestrum in Cats

Have you noticed your cat repeatedly rubbing or pawing their eyes? Perhaps there is also discharge. If so, a corneal sequestrum may be the problem. This condition is characterized by an opaque, dark brown, or black spot on the cornea. 

Sequestra can vary in size but are generally round or oval in shape and range from very small to quite large. They can extend deep into the corneal tissue. 

The condition is unique to domestic cats but can occur in housecats of any age or breed. Treatment in the form of medication and surgery makes it possible for affected cats to fully recover from feline corneal sequestrum. 

Causes of a Feline Corneal Sequestrum

There are many causes of feline corneal sequestrum. It may be difficult to determine the specific cause of your kitty's condition, however, one of the most common causes is the feline herpes virus, although injuries to the eye are also a frequent cause. 

Other causes of feline corneal sequestrum include:

  • Dry eye syndrome
  • Abnormal eyelid conformation
  • Corneal trauma such as accidental scratches

Persian and Himalayan cat breeds appear to face an increased risk for the condition, so genetics and shape of the eye structure may also play a role. 

Clinical Signs of a Corneal Sequestrum in Cats

If your cat has developed a corneal sequestrum, initial signs may be subtle but are likely to include:

  • Elevation of the third eyelid 
  • Squinting, tearing, and other signs of pain 
  • Change in color of the cornea from clear to brown or black 
  • Blood vessels extend from the edge of the eye to the sequestrum

In some cats, an infection can develop in the cornea surrounding the sequestrum, or the sequestrum may be so deep that it affects the entire thickness of the cornea, putting your cat at risk of losing the eye. 

If you spot any of the signs listed above, veterinary care is essential to help relieve pain and begin the recovery process. Contact your vet right away to schedule an examination for your feline friend.

Whenever your cat appears to be in pain immediate veterinary care is essential. Contact your nearest veterinary emergency hospital for 24/7 medical attention for your feline family member.

Diagnosing a Corneal Sequestrum

Our Seattle vets have experience in diagnosing and treating a wide range of eye injuries and diseases in cats. Our team can conduct a comprehensive examination of your cat's eye to determine if the tell-tale black or dark-colored spot is present in the corneal stroma. 

Treating Feline Corneal Sequestrum

Surgical removal (lamellar keratectomy) is typically recommended for cats suffering from corneal sequestrum since the condition can cause pain, inflammation, ulcers, and irreparable damage to your kitty's eye. 

A veterinary surgeon will use an operating microscope and micro-surgical instruments to perform the procedure while your cat is under general anesthesia. The corneal sequestrum and surrounding dead tissue will be removed before a topical antibiotic is applied to the eye. Any superficial lesions found may also be removed. 

A conjunctival grafting or corneal transplant may be recommended for cats who have a deep sequestrum. Long-term artificial tear supplements for both eyes may be prescribed by your vet to prevent the condition from recurring. 

Your veterinary surgeon may also recommend medications such as antivirals and topical antibiotics along with oral pain medication and ocular lubricants to keep the cornea moist and prevent further irritation. 

Your Cat's Recovery From Surgery

During recovery, an Elizabethan collar (E-collar) will likely be necessary to prevent your kitty from rubbing at the eye and causing further injury or secondary infections.

It's important to note that pain associated with ocular surgery and the application of topical medications (particularly some antiviral agents) often worsens immediately after surgery before gradually improving. Antiviral drugs may be used after surgery to address an underlying feline herpesvirus infection. 

Atropine may be prescribed to help dilate the pupil and relieve pain. While it can be applied every 12 to 24 hours, it should only be used as long as necessary, then tapered off as prolonged use can decrease tear production and lead to other problems with your cat's eye health. 

The Prognosis for Cats Diagnosed with a Corneal Sequestrum

If the disease is diagnosed early and treated with surgery there is a strong chance that your cat will recover and pain-free vision will be restored.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Has your kitty been diagnosed with corneal sequestrum? Our team at Northgate Veterinary Clinic is here to help! Contact our Seattle vets right away, to book an appointment for your cat. 

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