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Sudden Blindness In Cats: 5 Vet-Reviewed Causes

Sarah Psaradelis

By Sarah Psaradelis

blind orange cat

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lauren Demos

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Cats are known to have great vision, however certain conditions or injuries can cause your cat to suddenly go blind. These conditions can cause impaired vision or sudden blindness in cats and are usually the result of underlying conditions that cause injuries to your cats’ eyes.

It is common for cats to gradually lose their vision, especially as they start to age. But it can be very worrisome for cat owners to have their cat suddenly go blind, and there are some potential causes we will discuss in this article.

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The 5 Causes Of Sudden Blindness In Cats

1. Glaucoma

Acute glaucoma in adult cat
Image By: Todorean-Gabriel, Shutterstock

Feline glaucoma can affect any breed of cats and comes in two forms, primary and secondary glaucoma. It is a group of disorders that affect the retina and optic nerve in your cat’s eye. Cats can get glaucoma in one or both of their eyes, and primary glaucoma can be inherited in cats, but it is rare.

Secondary glaucoma is more common and can occur from severe eye inflammation (Uveitis), cancer, intraocular hemorrhages, or feline aqueous humor misdirection syndrome. This condition is painful, and your cat will need veterinary treatment for their symptoms.

2. Hypertension

Feline Hypertension (high blood pressure)
Image By: perthcathospital

Also known as high blood pressure, hypertension commonly leads to sudden blindness in older cats. High blood pressure can result in retinal detachment and your cat will no longer be able to see. If treated quickly by a veterinarian, your cat might be able to regain their vision. High blood pressure can be diagnosed in cats who have systolic blood pressure above 160mm Hg.

Certain heart diseases can also cause hypertension in cats along with kidney disease or hyperthyroidism. Your cat’s blood pressure will need to be measured and treated with the appropriate medication if your cat has gone blind from high blood pressure. So, if your cat has been suffering from high blood pressure and has suddenly gone blind, it may be caused by retinal detachment or rupture from their condition.

3. Head Injuries

Nursing the head trauma patient
Image Credit: theveterinarynurse

Blunt force trauma to your cat’s head may cause sudden blindness. Ocular trauma can also cause blindness due to blunt or sharp trauma applied directly to your cat’s eye. Head injuries can also cause a sudden burst of blood to pool into your cat’s eye and the damage to your cat’s retina which can cause blindness. Depending on the severity of your cat’s head trauma, the blindness may not be reversible, especially if the eye itself has suffered damage.

4. Dislocated Eye Lenses (Lens Luxation)

Domino cat, showing luxation in both eyes
Cat with Luxation in both eyes (Image Credit: Smirkybec, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

If your cat’s eye lens becomes dislocated, permanent blindness may occur in just a few hours and it is considered a medical emergency that requires immediate veterinary treatment.

5. Lymphosarcoma or Tumors

Image Credit: veterinaryophthalmicconsulting

Lymphosarcoma is a type of cancer that begins to fight the white blood cells (lymphocytes) of your cat’s immune system. It is believed to be the most common type of cancer in cats, and a tumor behind your cat’s eye can put pressure on it, causing it to rupture.

A malignant or cancerous tumor can grow quickly and put your cat at risk of sudden blindness if the tumor puts a lot of pressure on your cat’s eye. In some cases, your cat may need to have their eye removed, especially if your cat’s veterinarian cannot save the affected eye. Before your cat goes blind, you may notice a lump growing near your cat’s eye or a slight eye protrusion.

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What Is Sudden Blindness In Cats?

Sudden blindness in cats is blindness that occurs overnight or within a few days. Although sudden blindness is rare, it is possible in severe situations such as the onset of a fast disease or a head or ocular injury.

A cat who is suffering from sudden blindness may have sudden behavioral changes that didn’t progress over time. Usually, cat owners will pick up signs over a few weeks or months that their cat’s vision is deteriorating, but sudden blindness refers to complete vision loss within a few hours or days and has visible signs that your cat cannot see.

close up photo of an orange cat's eye
Image Credit: Peng Louis, Pexels

How To Tell If Your Cat Is Blind

If your cat has gone blind, you will notice these signs and behaviors from your cat:

  • The pupils are large and do not contract or constrict in response to light changes.
  • Your cat may bump into objects and appear confused.
  • Your cat may act clumsy and have difficulty completing their usual activities.
  • Your cat’s eyes may have suddenly changed and appear abnormal.
  • The eyes may look cloudy or red.
  • Sudden blindness caused by damage to your cat’s eye can make them paw at the eye and show symptoms of pain.
  • Your cat does not respond to objects, animals, or people in front of them.

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If your cat is acting unusual and appears to be struggling to see, it is important to take them to a veterinarian right away. Sudden blindness in cats is usually serious and the result of head trauma, eye damage, a condition, or severe inflammation that needs treatment. Sudden blindness does not necessarily mean that your cat will be blind forever, as some causes for their sudden vision loss can be reversed.

Featured Image Credit: Petrebels, Unsplash

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