Film over the eye.

by Ana
(Male', Maldives)

Hello Carolyne,
I am writing to ask about an eye condition..I hope you would be able to help me..My little brothers cat Patchy has this white film moved out over the surface of both eyes..And he squints a bit..I visited him tonight and it was such a pity to see Patchy the way he was..My brother told me that this occurred about two three days ago..And since we do not have any other option but to attend to the matter ourselves we are asking for your help..
Also, I think Patchy was involved in a fight recently..Two weeks ago, my brother called me asking for help..He said he found Patchy all bloody and wounded and that he was constantly mewing like he was in a lot of pain..i did see to the matter and it looked like he got into a really big fight or someone beat him up real bad..but the eyes weren't altered back then..
Why do you think is this happening?..can this lead to blindness or other such serious matter and if there could be a home remedy, what could be done?..I really hope you could help me..
Best regards to you and your little critters.. :)


Hi Ana,

It sounds like Patchy has his third eyelids showing. These are normally hidden from view. It is good to know that the fight was a contributing factor and that it’s not an eye disease.

The anatomy of the third eyelid is quite complex. The fold of tissue is covered by a mucous membrane called the conjunctiva . The conjunctiva faces the inner surface of the eyelids on one side and the cornea on the other side. There is a dense network of lymphoid follicles that are in contact with the surface of the eye and the tear film, a thin layer of liquid which functions as the lymph nodes of the eye. This network has the job of trapping dirt particles and other debris. Cartilage stiffening the free edge of the third eyelid, along with an accessory lacrimal gland that produces most of the tear film is curved to conform to the corneal surface. Hence the third eyelid is a major part of keeping the cat’s eyes well lubricated and constantly rinsing away the debris just like your car windshield wipers do.

However, as with any complex system, problems can happen disrupting the original purpose of the third eyelid. The third eyelid is called the haw or nictating membrane. When the cat is ill, undernourished, or catching a disease, this haw prominence is alerting you that your cat’s health isn’t up to par. Behind the eyeballs are pads of fat, which act as shock absorbers, and these start to shrink when the cat is in poor health.

Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the membrane that lines the eyelids and covers the exposed part of the eyeball. You may (or may not) notice redness or swelling of your cat's eyes, or if your cat's third eyelid is showing, conjunctivitis might be the culprit.

During the fight Patchy could have had the other cat damage that membrane. Putting phenylephrine drops in the eyes (or topical ophthalmic epinephrine drops) will encourage the third eyelid to return to its normal position. Many third eyelid problems work themselves out in the 6-8 week time frame unless infection has set in. Then an antibiotic would be needed.

However, in many cases the conjunctivitis could be a result of some type of foreign object lodged in the eye after or during the fight. In order to clean the eye area you will want to use about a quart of warm water and very gently pour it over the affected eye. Using a piece of soft, cotton wool soaked in the water, carefully wipe around the eye, but do not wipe over the actual eye. Once you have cleared the area you will be able to see if there is still an object inside the eye that shouldn't be there. Typically if there is, you don’t try to treat the problem yourself but take him to the vet. But I know that you live where there isn’t a vet nearby so you would have to be cautious in trying to remove any objects.

Something I keep on hand all the time is Vetericyn, an Ophthalmic Gel (for cats) that is used to clean and relieve eyes affected by burning, itching and stinging. It helps with wounds and minor infections of the eyes. With multiple cats it’s not uncommon for little battles to happen and someone usually gets whacked in the eye or gets an eye scratched. If it is not available in your area, the active ingredient is Hypochlorous Acid (0.008%). Check with your pharmacy and see if you can get something similar for Patchy.

I hope this information helps and that it's not a more serious injury. Best wishes to you and your brother's cat Patchy. Hopefully, he'll heal like Garfield did.

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