Monday, June 22, 2015

When your cat's eye just won't get better: Feline Temporary Partial Tarsorrhaphy

Feline Temporary Partial Tarsorrhaphy

Cats are prone to a number of eye problems, some of which are easy to overcome and others which are not. Kittens can suffer from chronic upper respiratory infections that may damage the eyes (corneal ulceration and corneal sequestrum). Cats of any age can scuffle and scrap with each other and injure an eye (corneal laceration), or stick their noses where they don't belong and get foreign objects in their eyes. Injury, illness or genetic defect can cause the eyelids to roll inwards (entropion), allowing the fur on the face to rub against the cornea and cause irritation.

Whatever the cause, sometimes eye drops or eye ointment are not sufficient to quickly and effectively treat an eye problem. In these cases, a special eye surgery called a temporary partial tarsorrhaphy can be performed to help protect the eye and aid in healing. In some cases a complete tarsorrhaphy is necessary.

This surgery involves suturing the eyelids together so that the cat cannot open its eye fully. The temporary closure of the eyelids allows the cornea to heal without allowing additional damage from irritants, self-trauma (rubbing at the eye or blinking excessively), or excessive drying.

This may sound distressing, but cats tolerate it quite well, because it relieves much of the pain and irritation associated with the affected eye. A partial closure allows a cat some visibility from the eye (and allows the veterinarian to continue to monitor healing), and medications can still be applied to the eye.
Pre-surgery, Ricky was squinting and uncomfortable

10 week old Ricky was one such kitten who needed additional help. He came to us from a rescue and was under the care of a veterinarian. He had been bottle raised, and had been battling upper respiratory infections since he had been found. Both eyes were treated with both an oral antibiotic and two different eye medications - an antibiotic drop and an antibiotic ointment. One eye recovered nicely, but unfortunately, his right eye just did not want to heal. Additionally, whether due to a birth defect or due to chronic illness, the eye was smaller in size than normal, so the eyelid was rolling inwards, allowing his fur to rub up against the surface of the eye every time he blinked and causing further irritation and inflammation.

Dr. Demos performed a temporary partial tarsorrhaphy on his right eyelids, closing part of the eye to prevent the eyelid from rolling in, and to relieve irritation to the cornea. Within minutes of recovering from anesthesia, little Ricky was bouncing around and playing and eating like nothing had happened. We started him on an oral antibiotic and a different topical antibiotic drop and we will check his healing in about 7 days.

Post-surgery, Ricky really got into his food

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