Is Eye Removal Surgery Necessary?

Diana Faye

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Hi everyone. It's been awhile since I last posted, but I have a new situation at hand that I need some help deciding how to best proceed.

A little bit of backstory - one of my cats that I had adopted from a shelter has an ulcerated eye stye to illness when he was a kitten. I adopted him with what I thought was one eye when he was about six months old and he is now three. My usual vet, and the only vet I have used since I adopted him, recently passed away so I had to find a new vet.

The old vet (and the new one who bought the practice that I don't care for) have obviously seen his eye- it is still open, it does drain and occasionally gets some gunk that he pretty much cleans himself. He's been treated for urinary blockage recently, but neither of those vets said anything about the eye. I was under the impression that it was just open, it didn't look inflamed, he eats and doesn't appear to be in any discomfort or pain. All you can see is the inner eyelid and a little bit of grey at the corner.

Today I have my first visit with a new vet for a wellness exam and to keep up with checking on his urinary issues. She immediately commented that he does in fact have an eye and claimed that he is in pain and really should have it removed. She did gently pull back the inner eyelid that mostly blocks it so I can get a better look. Sorry if this is gross, skip this part if your squeamish- I clearly saw that it is an eyeball, grey in color now, that is missing the cornea. She explained that the eyeball collapsed but was not removed, and what the removal process would be like.

Obviously, this new information and suggestion for yet another surgery blew my mind. My last vet, the one who passed away, was someone I trusted. He was not always the most forthcoming with information necessarily, due to not wanting to cause unnecessary alarm. His philosophy was very much to not overdo it with the animals. I feel like if he thought eye removal was necessary, he would have said so. I can also appreciate the opinion of this new vet, in wanting to prevent any future issues by removing the eye and closing up the hole. Honestly, I wish they had just did that initially at the shelter when it first happened. She also claimed that the eye was infected, and although I see no swelling or redness to the area I did ask for eye drops at least as a preventative in the meantime.

I'm still processing I'll this information, and I don't know what I want to do right now. I'm still paying off the emergency vet bill for the blockage, and I really don't want to put him through something traumatic again if it can be avoided. He does not appear to be negatively affected by it, but if possible I want to do right by the cat. When I first read up about one-eyed cats, I have found information both for and against suturing. I guess that doesn't apply to me, because he does in fact have an eye. I've tried to do some more research in the few hours since this visit, but anything I can find is about cornea ulcerations that have just occurred. This cat has been like this for 3 years now.

Regardless, I am going to have to wait until I'm sure I have a handle on the urinary issues as well as paying off the last bill. I'm going to need to decide whether or not I elect to do an additional surgery, with the knowledge that he could have urinary issues down the road. Yes, I hate to say it but money is a concern, but my main concern is his well-being. He's already been through so much in his short life - is this eye surgery necessary at this time? Does anyone else have any experience or insight to this kind of thing? I'd really appreciate some advice here as I don't yet know what the best decision for him is.
 

daftcat75

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I don't have experience with this. But I will say that cats are stoic about pain. You may not be seeing it. But it very well could be causing him discomfort or pain. Cats are also remarkably tough, resilient, and adaptive. He won't be traumatized by the procedure. In fact, he may come back happier than ever because something that's been bothering him for this long has finally stopped bothering him. Certainly seek the professional advice to understand the procedure and risks of doing vs not doing it. But this, to me (an internet stranger), sounds like a non-functional hole in his head that is deteriorating and may already be infected. I think he'd be best served (and it would likely be less expensive in the long run) by proceeding with the removal and suturing procedure vs. a wait and see how much worse this can get approach.
 
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Diana Faye

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I don't have experience with this. But I will say that cats are stoic about pain. You may not be seeing it. But it very well could be causing him discomfort or pain.
That is my concern, that I could somehow be wrong about him not having discomfort. But he eats, plays, he's doesn't rub at the area, and he doesn't react when I touch his face (unless it's with a damp cloth, because he hates getting wet).

I think he'd adjust just fine if it were closed; he's already not using it. But he's terrified of strangers, both cats are bonded and hate being apart, and even tho it's a relatively easy surgery, there's always risks.
 

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This is something I have experience with.
20190112_085743(2).jpg


Get it taken care of sooner rather than later, and not just because he may be in pain. It's going to suck for a while, it's going to be a bloody mess and he's going to need pain medication after the surgery, but it beats the unholy crap out of it developing ocular sarcoma. If it's left alone that is a possibility, and if that happens it could spread into the brain before it's even diagnosed.
 

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Your vet can request a courtesy consult from an ophthalmologist at vet school or another vet hospital and discuss your cat's eye issue and treatment options. If surgery is necessary, your vet may be able to do it or will refer you to another vet who is more capable of such surgeries.
 
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Diana Faye

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This is something I have experience with.
View attachment 384169

Get it taken care of sooner rather than later, and not just because he may be in pain. It's going to suck for a while, it's going to be a bloody mess and he's going to need pain medication after the surgery, but it beats the unholy crap out of it developing ocular sarcoma. If it's left alone that is a possibility, and if that happens it could spread into the brain before it's even diagnosed.
O wow, thanks for the link.. I will definitely have to read up on that.

Is your kitty's eye sealed shut? Can you tell me a little about your experience with the process and/ or what led up to his removal?

Really appreciate everyone's input. Honestly, it's frustrating that this cat has been seen by 4-5 other vets within his lifetime and it's never come up (the first being those who treated him when he was first brought to the shelter).

Is there any practical reason why they wouldn't have removed it in the first place?
 

Talien

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O wow, thanks for the link.. I will definitely have to read up on that.

Is your kitty's eye sealed shut? Can you tell me a little about your experience with the process and/ or what led up to his removal?

Really appreciate everyone's input. Honestly, it's frustrating that this cat has been seen by 4-5 other vets within his lifetime and it's never come up (the first being those who treated him when he was first brought to the shelter).

Is there any practical reason why they wouldn't have removed it in the first place?
Yes, after the damaged eye was removed it was sewn shut. That has to be done to prevent dirt and debris from getting in, and to help it heal. My vet initially told me it probably wasn't necessary and she didn't feel it worth putting my Cat through an operation. After it started leaking brownish fluid mixed with blood I insisted. Afterward she told me it was a good thing I did because the eye was still there, but had shrunken into a hardened lump and was irritating the surrounding tissue, which is what was causing the discharge.

Most people consider it unnecessary and potentially traumatic to the animal, and they are not wrong on the traumatic part. This is what she looked like after the surgery.
20201014_135633.jpg


There will be a lot of drainage, and like I said, it will be a bloody mess for several days. Your Cat may need a cone afterward, some will scratch and pick at it and if they rip the stitches out they will need to go back to have them put in again. I was lucky and she did not bother it afterward, she somehow got her cone off and I didn't bother putting it back on because she actually did better without it, all it did was stress her out.

She looks and feels a lot better now.
20210612_112407.jpg
 
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Diana Faye

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Yes, after the damaged eye was removed it was sewn shut. That has to be done to prevent dirt and debris from getting in, and to help it heal. My vet initially told me it probably wasn't necessary and she didn't feel it worth putting my Cat through an operation. After it started leaking brownish fluid mixed with blood I insisted. Afterward she told me it was a good thing I did because the eye was still there, but had shrunken into a hardened lump and was irritating the surrounding tissue, which is what was causing the discharge.
My boy does get brownish discharge, no blood unless that's what's making it brown. It can collect around his eye and look almost black. Used to gum up his eyelids almost shut, so I would clean him, but he's been doing a good job of that for himself lately.

You've given me a lot to think about. I have drops now for the time being, so I wonder if that will make it look any different discharge wise, which would help to clue me in.

I'm thinking I may also look into getting a second opinion as well, just to be as informed as possible.
 
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Diana Faye

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Just out of curiosity, do you happen to have any pics before the surgery? I'm wondering if your cat looked similar to mine.
 

Talien

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This is a picture from soon after I first rescued her, you can see how her eye looked then. I don't have any pictures of the discharge itself since she would always clean her face right away, honestly the only reason I noticed it was when I started seeing drops of it on her food mat, and then drops of blood.
PIC_0028.JPG
 

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This is truly a complicated situation and you are trying your best to help your kitty. My experience with animals is that they simply put up with things.....especially cats. If what they are tolerating is potentially fatal and they are not helped, then eventually nature steps in. If it is a condition like your cat, they more or less assume that this is life, their lot is to have to live with it, and they do. I don't believe that we can assess that they are not in pain or suffering, at least, from some extreme irritation. I have to agree with those who encourage you to seek further help for your boy.

Animals who lose an eye, or even both of them or go blind, can function completely normally in a safe environment inside. As you can see, the final result is simply a shut eye. My cat vet has a one eyed dog, I have a friend with a one eyed Somali, and years ago knew a family with a small dog who lost both eyes and remained a loved pet.

I realize that the idea of the removal of the eye might be hitting you in the pit of your stomach, but you will certainly be helped through it by your vet or whichever one you choose. I don't want to sound ghoulish, but I am a big believer in the removal of beyond help body parts as opposed to intervention which may do nothing. My GSD has three legs, probably the best medical decision I ever made for him.
 
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Diana Faye

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This is a picture from soon after I first rescued her, you can see how her eye looked then. I don't have any pictures of the discharge itself since she would always clean her face right away, honestly the only reason I noticed it was when I started seeing drops of it on her food mat, and then drops of blood.
View attachment 384199
Thanks for sharing. It does look similar to my boy, and he does clean himself. Did you notice her acting like it bothered her at all, or was it just the discharge?

I managed to get a hold of the shelter he came from and they sent me his records- he did see an opthomologist at the time and they initially recommended removal. They had given me the papers when I adopted him, but I didn't understand the terminology and it was presented to me like he was good to go. I'm going to go with that as my "second recommendation" and assume that it needs to be removed. I will have to figure out a timeline tho as to when I can do it, as I'm still paying off the emergency vet bill and I want to make sure his urinary issues are under control first. I assume he's "ok" for the time being, as he doesn't appear to be in pain, but of course cats are notoriously stoic.
 

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Thanks for sharing. It does look similar to my boy, and he does clean himself. Did you notice her acting like it bothered her at all, or was it just the discharge?

I managed to get a hold of the shelter he came from and they sent me his records- he did see an opthomologist at the time and they initially recommended removal. They had given me the papers when I adopted him, but I didn't understand the terminology and it was presented to me like he was good to go. I'm going to go with that as my "second recommendation" and assume that it needs to be removed. I will have to figure out a timeline tho as to when I can do it, as I'm still paying off the emergency vet bill and I want to make sure his urinary issues are under control first. I assume he's "ok" for the time being, as he doesn't appear to be in pain, but of course cats are notoriously stoic.
I couldn't really tell if she was in pain from it or not, but I didn't imagine it felt good since it had that brown discharge and was bleeding occasionally. He's probably ok for now as long as he doesn't start scratching or rubbing at it, but if he does or it starts bleeding consider looking into care credit or some other sort of payment plan.
 

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My calico cat Smooch passed away in March 2021. She would have been 18 years old in May 2021. She had an eye surgically removed in August 2019 Due to a malignant eyelid melanoma. I was terrified of the idea of her losing her eye. But she had no problems with the surgery or life afterward. She acted the same as she always had before surgery. I don’t know anything about what’s causing your cat‘s eye problems but wanted to let you know that enucleation (eye removal surgery) was really easily handled by my girl. Good luck with your cat!
E55F4FCE-53C3-4F95-B15E-2554F0F51D7A.jpeg
 
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Diana Faye

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My calico cat Smooch passed away in March 2021. She would have been 18 years old in May 2021. She had an eye surgically removed in August 2019 Due to a malignant eyelid melanoma. I was terrified of the idea of her losing her eye. But she had no problems with the surgery or life afterward. She acted the same as she always had before surgery. I don’t know anything about what’s causing your cat‘s eye problems but wanted to let you know that enucleation (eye removal surgery) was really easily handled by my girl. Good luck with your cat! View attachment 384343
Thank you. He already lost sight in the eye and it collapsed. He's my first with any kind of issues, so I had no idea and misunderstood that the shelter had already handled it. He's used to being half blind, but of course I'm worried about putting him through another ordeal but it seems like it would be for the best
 

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One of my colony cats just had enucleation due to severe damage and I am caring for her inside now. They think it was caused by a herpes infection. It happened pretty rapidly, she had always had weepy eyes on and off, but when this happened, it looked like her eyeball was exploding, It was very swollen with blood etc. with a huge sore, corneal ulcer on the outside. There is no way that would not be painful. Dvm recommended enucleation to make her more comfortable although he thought the worst of the pain was done after the initial event. Just imagine your own eyes and how sensitive they are. Another reason for enucleation is to prevent infection spreading and possible damage to the other eye and other internal parts there. If you shop around you will find a good dvm that does more surgeries overall to do the surgery for less hopefully in your area.
 
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