Q: Our cat had a scare a couple of weeks ago and jumped through the screen in our window. We think it was either this or playing with our dog that has resulted in a scratch on his eyeball. It doesn’t seem to really be bothering him as it isn’t red and he hasn’t been scratching it. Should we be concerned about it enough to take him to the vet or just keep monitoring it for a while to see if it gets better or not?

A: Any time that you notice a visible scratch on the cornea (the clear, front portion of the eye), you should take your pet in to the veterinarian. The primary reason is that such a scratch can result in an ulcer forming in the cornea that may take a long time to heal and may result in permanent damage to the cornea and even the internal structures of the eye if the damage is bad enough.

In your cat’s case, it sounds like there has been minimal to no progression in the lesion on the cornea. This is definitely good for his overall prognosis, as it should be easier to get it to heal properly. Your veterinarian will do an ophthalmic exam of the eye and probably place some stain on the cornea to assess how big and deep the lesion is. Then you will need to place your cat on some eye medications to help heal the scratch. The first type of medication is almost always an antibiotic for the eye. If the lesion is very deep, your veterinarian may also use a collagen-type ointment to assist in healing.

Make sure that you have his eye rechecked in a week or two after starting treatment, so that your veterinarian can see if the healing is adequate or if additional medications are needed. Don’t skip treatment or follow-up exams until your veterinarian tells you that it is time to stop treatment. This will help to prevent or at least minimize scarring of the cornea.

Got a pet-related question? Send it to Dr. Anderson, a veterinarian at Hawthorne Park Animal Care Center in Bloomington, via email at features@pantagraph.com.

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