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Uveitis is an eye condition in cats and dogs, and can be caused by underlying health issues both in the eye and elsewhere in the body. The condition can be diagnosed through a full investigation of the eye alongside a more thorough examination of your pet’s overall health.

What is Uveitis?

Uveitis is an inflammation of the middle section of your pet’s eye. This can happen as the result of a disease elsewhere in the body or within the eye itself.

Understanding the Anatomy of the Eye

To understand how Uveitis affects the eye, we first need to understand a bit about the basic anatomy of the eye. We generally talk about the eye having 3 layers:

  • The outer layer made up of the clear cornea and white sclera
  • The innermost layer composed of the retina
  • The middle layer is the uveal tract, rich in blood vessels. This middle layer is composed of the iris (the coloured area around the pupil), the ciliary body which produces fluid inside the eye (called aqueous humor) and the choroid that provides nutrition to the back of the eye. Uveitis is inflammation of this middle section of the eye.

What Can Cause Uveitis?

In all animals, Uveitis can be caused by trauma such as penetration of the eye by such things as twigs and branches. In dogs specifically, Uveitis is a common complication of diabetic cataracts, trauma, corneal ulcers and tumours of the eye. Meanwhile in cats, Uveitis can be caused by Feline Leukaemia Virus (FIV), Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP), or with trauma such as cat scratches.

What are the Signs of Uveitis in Pets?

A pet with uveitis will usually exhibit a number of symptoms relating to the eye, including:-

  • Changes to the eye without an obvious cause
  • Increased blinking
  • Increased squinting (Blepharospasm)
  • Watery discharge to the eye
  • Heightened sensitivity to light (Photophobia)
  • Conjunctivitis (red, irritable, weeping eyes)
  • Engorgement of the scleral vessels (the white of the eye)
  • Fogging of the front chamber of the eye (this may obscure vision)

How is Uveitis Diagnosed?

Your vet will diagnose Uveitis during a detailed ophthalmic examination consisting of direct visualisation with a ophthalmoscope, slit lamp and illumination of the uveal tract, use of a tonometer, and in some cases your pet’s eye may be imaged using ultrasound to rule out other eye concerns. A wider general examination will also be conducted as many systemic diseases in cats and dogs can manifest as Uveitis. Further to this, blood and urine tests are often taken to consider your pet’s health as a whole.

All of these checks can be carried out by your team here at Knutsford Vets. If you have concerns about your pet having Uveitis, get in touch with us today.

How is Uveitis Treated?

Cases of Uveitis need to be treated aggressively to prevent long-term damage to the structure of the eye and blindness.

Your vet will want to identify the source of the inflammation and any underlying diseases before providing treatment. From here, Corticosteroids are commonly given as eye drops, injections or given orally to help reduce inflammation. Atropine may be used to help relax the iris to reduce pain and scarring, and antibiotics are given when bacterial infection is identified as the source of Uveitis.

Some oral medications may cause side effects such as; changes in thirst, appetite or behaviour, vomiting or diarrhoea, changes in white blood cell levels, or changes to blood chemistry.

Do You Need to Monitor Your Pet Following Treatment of Uveitis?

Pets should be monitored carefully following a case of Uveitis as the disease may damage the drainage angle of the eye, potentially causing glaucoma (a build up of pressure in the eye). It may also cause other eye health issues such as corneal ulcers, cataracts, and retinal detachment.

Does Uveitis Have a Good Prognosis?

Uveitis is a serious eye condition in pets and if left untreated can lead to blindness. The condition requires a detailed examination and investigation, aggressive management, and regular follow up monitoring and/or lifelong topical medications. All of which are important for successful treatment and resolution of the Uveitis.

That being said, with early diagnosis, appropriate treatment and follow up management, the prognosis with Uveitis can be good.

The team at Knutsford Vets Surgery have a range of state of the art ophthalmic equipment available at our disposal which can help diagnose Uveitis in your pet, and set them on their way back to health.

Rabbit With Uveitis
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