A few months back, I introduced you to Milo, my special boy who was born with an abnormality called eyelid agenesis. He has no upper eyelids to protect his eyes. Incredibly, he is still able to close his eyes very well. Other cats with this condition aren’t always so lucky, being unable to close their eyes completely. Milo, however, looks just like a “normal” cat when he is sleeping.
When he was first diagnosed by the kindly Dr. K., I was given a list of surgical options. Since the biggest irritant to Milo’s eyes was his own fur– short, eyelash-like strands of hair that poke and scratch his corneas– Dr. K. suggested that the thin strip of skin where those pesky hairs grow be surgically removed. This could be done on both eyes, or just the right one, which is notably worse. The other, most expensive option was to have reconstructive surgery, actually building makeshift eyelids for Milo!
In the months since Milo was last seen by the vet, I treated his eyes daily with a lubricant eye ointment. It’s just over-the-counter stuff you can buy at most drug stores. It has just three basic, natural ingredients: mineral oil, lanolin, and white petrolatum (the latter of which locks moisture in). He seemed to be doing well with this topical treatment, and he even got used to me rubbing the stuff in his little eyes, hardly putting up a fuss! But lately, I’ve noticed that his eyes– in particular, the right one– was alarmingly red and irritated.
Although he never, ever pawed at his eyes to indicate he was in any discomfort, when I gently pulled the eye open to take a closer look, he’d try to squirm out of my grip. (God bless him, though, he never tried to bite me!) I couldn’t tell if he had an eye ulcer or what was going on. It was time to make another vet appointment.
I was disappointed that Dr. K. was off until the New Year. So Milo and I saw Dr. Becky. She was very enamored with Mr. Milo, declaring him “very handsome” more than once. I told her that Milo already knows this; he’s a MAJOR poser!!!
After examining him, she informed me that his right eye is constantly being pricked by those bristly hairs that act as eyelashes. She DOES NOT recommended getting the thin strips of skin surrounding his eyes removed. “That’ll give him even less of a non-eyelid,” she explained. Becky said that another procedure I can look into is depilation, the permanent removal of the irritant hairs. I assume this is done by lasers or via electrolysis? It sounds more appealing to me than reconstructive surgery, where skin is taken from the kitty’s lips and mouth to construct eyelids!!! OUCH!!! (There have been success stories using this drastic procedure, like a California cat named Billie. Click here to read her story.) The third, most frightening option, only if things deteriorate to where his condition is unmanageable, is to have the right eye removed altogether. Obviously, this is a last resort.
No vets in Watertown can perform the surgeries that Milo needs. I need to contact two different opthalmologists (yes, there are opthalmologists for cats), one in Fulton and one in Syracuse. Get price quotes and availability. Weigh options.
Meanwhile, I have antibiotic gel to apply to Milo’s eyes twice a day, in addition to the lubricant ointment. Keep us both in your prayers!