Lucy needed those surgeries because she was born with a genetic condition called anophthalmia. In essence, she had no functional eyeballs in her eye sockets. But she did have functional eyelids, tear ducts and eye lashes. Here's what she looked like the day I brought her home.
You'll notice that she had really beautiful eye lids here, ringing her sockets with black mascara. She didn't have any pain from her eyes at all, and in theory, she could have gone on living like this for the rest of her life. But, those functional eye parts didn't make Lucy's life very easy.
Her tear ducts went on working, even though she had no eyeballs to lubricate. So at the end of a long day, her cheeks were caked with tears she didn't need. She often looked a lot like this.
|Liam the pug has always been a great big brother.|
Her poor cheeks are wet with tears, and her eye sockets are also a little pinker than they should be. That's a concern, as it seems to indicate that the tissues are inflamed, either by bacteria or from the cleanings I had to give her every night to wash the excess tears away.
My veterinarian advised a surgery for Lucy to improve her overall heath. Those two moist, open, dark eye sockets in her head were a perfect breeding ground for bacteria, and if she got an infection in there, she'd need eye drops and other stinging treatments in order to heal.
|Lucy didn't have a huge mane when she was a kitten. That came later!|
Plus, surgery could improve her quality of life. Enduring a face cleaning every night just wasn't fun for this little girl, and it's possible that she would tolerate it less and less as she grew into an adult. Kittens are accustomed to momma's work, but older cats might not handle the same level of attention.
So we scheduled surgery. The doctor examined her eye sockets and removed any eye globe tissues he found, and then he removed her tear ducts and eyelashes, and sewed everything shut. She was sent home with pain medications, and she's never looked back.
I've seen other cats with Lucy's condition. In fact, we had a kitten pass through the shelter last month (with the adorable name Megatron), and he had anophthalmia in one eye.
Notice that his left eye socket is open, and that it's a little gooey. In theory, he could simply deal with this for the rest of his life. Plenty of cats with this condition do.
But, based on Lucy's experience, I think that surgery really is the way to go. She has never had an open infection in her eyes, simply because I got it handled before her inflammation turned south. And she recovered from surgery really quickly, too, and may not have done the same with a daily cleansing.
So I'm the first to recommend surgery. In my opinion, it's a great choice for cats with this (unfortunately common) eye deformity.