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Nuclear Sclerosis in Cats

Why Your Cat's Eyes May Be Changing Color

By Madeleine Burry. August 27, 2013 | See Comments

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Nuclear Sclerosis in Cats

As cats age, their eyes may change in color, which can be part of the natural aging process for felines. In severe cases only, nuclear sclerosis may become problematic and have a major impact on your cat's vision. Find out more here.

Have you noticed a change in the appearance of your cat’s eyes? Your first thought might be cataracts, but one very common possibility, especially as cats age, is nuclear sclerosis. Also known as lenticular sclerosis, nuclear sclerosis in cats will cause your feline’s eyes to have a blue or gray colored film over the pupils. Unlike cataracts, this condition is not considered problematic -- it occurs in just about every cat as they age, and except in severe cases, will generally not have a major impact on your cat’s vision. Discover more information about how to detect and diagnose this condition.

Causes of Nuclear Sclerosis in Cats

Nuclear sclerosis is an age-related condition, and very commonly occurs once your cat reaches age eight or so. To understand why this condition happens, you need to know a bit about how the eye works. The lens of your cat’s eye is composed of layers of cell tissue. More layers of this tissue are added throughout a cat’s life, but the space of the lens does not expand -- and since it’s a compact space, the layers begin to change the appearance of the formerly transparent and clear area to a more opaque, gray-blue color.

Nuclear Sclerosis Symptoms

The main symptom of nuclear sclerosis is a change to the appearance of your cat’s eyes -- rather than a clear pupil, there will appear to be a blue-gray coating. Since this mimics somewhat the symptoms of cataracts, you will likely want to visit your vet to rule out this more serious issue. Note that nuclear sclerosis will generally occur in both eyes at the same time, while cataracts often don’t. In earlier years, the change to the appearance of your cat’s eyes will be the only symptom. If your cat lives to be quite old, you may also notice some minor vision problems, such as a degradation of your cat’s ability to see things that are far away.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Nuclear sclerosis can be fairly easily diagnosed at the veterinarian’s office with an eye exam. Since the impact of nuclear sclerosis is mainly cosmetic -- resulting in a change in the appearance of your cat’s eyes -- there is no treatment recommended for this condition. Nuclear sclerosis will not cause your pet any pain. But because the symptoms can resemble those of cataracts, which are a more serious eye problem, it is a good idea to check in with the vet if you notice a change in the appearance of your cat’s eyes.

More on Cat Health

What To Do About Your Pet's Eye Infection
Cat and Dog Eye Care Buying Guide
How To Treat Eye Infections in Dogs and Cats

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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Nuclear Sclerosis at a glance

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  • 1Nuclear sclerosis is also commonly called lenticular sclerosis, and affects the appearance of your cat’s eyes.
  • 2This condition occurs naturally as your cat ages, and new layers of tissue are added to their eye.
  • 3Nuclear sclerosis generally develops in both eyes at once.
  • 4Unlike cataracts, it does not impact your cat’s vision, nor does it cause any pain.