Just like humans, cats are susceptible to developing high blood pressure, especially later in life. While high blood pressure is enough of a problem on its own, it's especially important to keep it controlled in order to maintain your cat's vision. Uncontrolled hypertension can cause blindness in cats, so read on to learn how you can prevent this problem from happening to your kitty.
How High Blood Pressure Damages the Retina
Like the rest of the eye, the retina is very sensitive to changes in its blood supply and blood pressure. When a cat's blood pressure is too high, it can cause the blood vessels and arteries leading to the eye to constrict, reducing the amount of blood the retina receives. In addition, high blood pressure can also cause small tears or leaks in the veins, resulting in bleeding in the retina. When its blood supply is diminished, the retina quickly suffers, which can cause a loss of vision. In the long-term, if the blood supply isn't fully restored, the retina can be permanently damaged and no restoration of vision will be possible.
What the Retina Does
The retina is responsible for receiving the light that's made it into your cat's eye and translating it into an image the brain can understand. It's a key part of your cat's vision, and your cat can't see without it. As the retina's blood supply is diminished, the retina will pull away from the eye, creating a far-away or darkened image in your cat's vision. As a result, your cat's pupils may appear very large, as the eye is attempting to compensate by allowing in as much light as possible. However, this is only a stopgap, as without bringing down the blood pressure, your cat's vision will continue to worsen.
Likelihood of Recovery
Thankfully, cats can generally at least partially recover from this problem if their blood pressure is quickly controlled. Time is of the essence, as the longer the retina is deprived of its blood supply, the more likely it is that it will be permanently damaged.
If your cat is already being monitored for high blood pressure, your veterinarian will most likely add vision checks to your cat's physicals. However, if you notice any change in your cat's vision or that its pupils seem large, get to a veterinarian like Kenmore Veterinary Hospital immediately. Doing so can make the difference in whether or not your cat can see for the rest of its life.