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The identification and management of feline conjunctivitis

02 September 2023
10 mins read
Volume 14 · Issue 7


Feline conjunctivitis commonly presents in veterinary practice due to a variety of reasons; it can stem from a primary conjunctival disease or be secondary to an underlying extraocular, intraocular or systemic condition. Clinical signs of conjunctivitis are often non-specific and may be similar despite various aetiologies, therefore a methodical clinical examination should be followed. This article aims to explore the presentation, pathology and management options for feline conjunctivitis, whilst examining the role of registered veterinary nurses through the treatment of ocular conditions.

The eye is situated within the orbit of the skull, cushioned in fat and connective tissue and protected by the eyelids, the conjunctiva lines, the inner eyelids and the anterior surface of the sclera (Aspinall and Lakeman, 2016). The conjunctival mucous secretions contribute to the protection of the cornea.

Conjunctivitis refers to inflammation of the conjunctiva and is very common in cats due to a variety of reasons. Primary infectious conjunctivitis is one of the most common presentations of the condition, though secondary causes are possible. Clinical signs of conjunctivitis are usually non-specific but often include hyperemia, ocular discharge, chemosis, conjunctival thickening or ulceration, conjunctival haemorrhage and follicle formation. When approaching feline conjunctivitis, the following classifications can be utilised to encourage a thorough examination:

In many cases of feline conjunctivitis, it is difficult to distinguish underlying causes and laboratory diagnostics may be necessary. However, a full clinical history should be taken alongside an ophthalmic and clinical examination. Registered veterinary nurses may be used in these cases to assist with history taking, creating nursing care plans and aiding clinical examination. Nursing care plans are highly recommended throughout the veterinary literature and can be easy adaptable for ophthalmic patients, especially those that may require hospital or surgical admission. Nursing care plans allow registered veterinary nurses to record and assess the patients' normal behaviours and routines to allow for patient-focused care, based on the information provided by the owner.

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