Glaucoma in Cats: Everything You Need to Know

In glaucoma, or glaucoma, the pressure in the eye is too high, which damages the retina and optic nerve. A veterinarian should always be consulted as soon as possible if the cat shows signs of pain from one or both eyes.

Normal eye pressure is important for eye function. The pressure is affected by the inflow and outflow of ventricular fluid.

The eye constantly produces new ventricular fluid, which has the task of transporting nutrients and waste products to and from the eye.

In a healthy eye, the fluid is removed from the eye through the ventricular angle at the same rate as new fluid is produced.


Glaucoma in cats is almost always a complication of an inflammation or a tumor inside the eye. The inflammation in the eye can also be due to disease elsewhere in the body. During inflammation, inflammatory cells are formed that can accumulate in the ventricular angle and thus prevent the outflow, which leads to an increased pressure inside the eye.


Symptoms of glaucoma often creep in and can be difficult to detect. The whites of the eyes may become bloodshot and the cat may squint with its eye. The cornea and front of the eye may look greyish. The pupil may be dilated and not respond to light. Signs of impaired vision can sometimes be observed. Cats with glaucoma are often in pain, but it can be difficult to detect. A cat that is in pain can, for example, walk away more, be less sociable and have a reduced appetite.


The veterinarian examines the eyes and checks the fluid pressure with a so-called tonometer. Further examinations of the inside of the eye can be done using various special instruments (such as ophthalmoscopes and gonioscopes). Since glaucoma is most often a result of inflammation in the eye, which can be caused by another disease in the body, it is important to further examine the cat’s general condition, for example with blood samples.


The medical treatment of glaucoma consists of various types of anti-depressant eye drops. At high pressure, the cat may need to be enrolled to be treated with a pressure-reducing drip. Treatment with painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs may also be needed.


This disease is more troublesome in cats than in humans and often leads to the eye becoming blind even if it is treated to the best of its ability. If the cat has become blind in the eye and is affected by pain, it may be appropriate to operate on the painful eye.

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