Progressive Retinal Atrophy in Cats How To Manage Progressive Retinal Atrophy in Cats

Progressive Retinal Atrophy in Cats Photo by Dids:

Cats are susceptible to the ocular condition known as Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA). Learn more about this condition here.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is a degenerative eye disease that affects cats. It is characterized by the gradual loss of cells in the retina, the light-sensitive layer at the back of the eye.

An overview of PRA, including its origins, symptoms, and available treatments, will be given in this article.

Causes of Progressive Retinal Atrophy in Cats

The causes of retinal degeneration in cats can be classified as either inherited or acquired.

  1. Inherited PRA: Genetic mutations that are passed down from parents to children are what lead to this form of PRA. Siamese cats and other cat breeds are predisposed to hereditary PRA.

  2. Acquired PRA: This form of PRA is caused by damage or injury to the retina rather than by genetic mutations. Causes of acquired PRA in cats can include:

  • Chronic inflammation of the eye

  • Nutritional deficiencies, such as vitamin A deficiency

  • Exposure to toxins or certain medications

  • Chronic diseases such as diabetes or hypertension

  • Trauma to the eye

  • Long-term glaucoma

It's crucial to remember that a mix of genetic and acquired variables can contribute to PRA.


Depending on the disease's stage, cats with Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) may exhibit a variety of symptoms. Some typical PRA signs and symptoms include:

  • Night blindness: Cats with PRA could have trouble seeing at night or in low light.

  • Difficulty adjusting to changes in light: Cats with PRA may have trouble adjusting to changes in light, such as moving from a dark room to a bright one.

  • Loss of peripheral vision: Cats with PRA may lose their peripheral vision, which can make it difficult for them to navigate their environment.

  • Loss of visual acuity: PRA can lead to a loss of visual acuity, making it difficult for cats to see fine details.

  • Dilated pupils: As PRA progresses, the pupils of cats may appear dilated and unresponsive to light changes.

  • Squinting or rubbing eyes: As PRA progresses, cats may squint or rub their eyes as a sign of discomfort.

  • Collision with objects: As PRA progresses, cats may collide with objects in their environment as they lose their vision.

It's important to note that the symptoms of PRA can be subtle at first and may be mistaken for normal age-related changes in vision. Therefore, if you observe any changes in your cat's vision, it's crucial to visit a veterinarian.


The diagnosis of Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) in cats typically involves a combination of clinical examination, ophthalmologic examination, and laboratory tests. The following are some common methods used to diagnose PRA in cats:

  • Ophthalmologic examination: This includes an examination of the eyes with a slit-lamp biomicroscope, which allows the veterinarian to assess the health of the retina.

  • Electroretinography (ERG): This test measures the electrical activity of the retina and how it responds to light, and can be used to diagnose PRA.

  • Optokinetic reflex test: This test measures the cat's ability to track moving patterns and can be used to assess the integrity of the retina.

  • Fundoscopy: This is an examination of the retina by looking at the back of the eye with a special device.

  • Genetic testing: Genetic testing can be used to identify certain genetic mutations that are associated with inherited forms of PRA in cats.

It's important to note that PRA is usually a slow-progressive disease, and the diagnosis can be challenging. It's important to consult with a veterinarian that specializes in ophthalmology if you notice any changes in your cat's vision.


How can PRA be managed?

In order to effectively treat cats with Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), a mix of medical and supportive treatments is frequently used. Here are a few typical tactics for managing PRA in cats:

  • Medical therapy: The majority of PRA treatments focus on symptom management and decreasing the disease's progression. Vitamin A supplements, grape seed supplements, and antioxidants for cats may be recommended to slow the degeneration of the retina. Also, cats that are hereditary predisposed to glaucoma should be given glaucoma medications to reduce eye pressure.

  • Surgical therapy: Surgery is not an option for PRA management. The only available treatment is to surgically remove the eye in advanced cases of PRA where the eye causes pain or discomfort for the cat.

  • Environmental management: Providing a safe and comfortable environment for a cat with PRA is essential. This may include keeping the cat indoors, providing plenty of light, and making sure the cat has easy access to food and water. Further, use a debris removal eye wash if you notice foreign debris in your cat’s eye.

  • Adaptive devices: Special devices, such as night lights and flashlights, can be used to help cats with PRA navigate their environment.

  • Behavioral management: Training and behavior modification can help cats with PRA adjust to their vision loss. This may include teaching the cat new routes around the house and providing them with familiar scents or sounds to help them navigate.

It's important to note that PRA is a progressive and incurable disease. The aim of the management is to improve the quality of life and make the cat comfortable in his environment. Regular check-ups with a veterinarian that specializes in ophthalmology are important to monitor the progression of the disease and adjust the management plan accordingly.

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