Eyelid agenesis is a birth defect that is rather uncommon. It is mostly found in cats, although other animals can suffer from it as well. In cats with eyelid agenesis, the eyelid does not form properly. The parts of the eye that are not protected by an eyelid are constantly subjected to any dust, eyelashes and hair that come into contact with the eye–imagine constantly having an eyelash stuck in your eye without being able to remove it. In addition, the eye is not able to be properly hydrated, and is easily irritated, red and dry as a result.
As the eye continues to be aggravated and inflamed, it is more susceptible to infection and corneal ulcers. The recurring damage sustained by the eye can cause scar tissue to form. The cornea may thicken too much to try and protect itself from the irritation, and the cat can suffer from painful, hard-to-treat ulcers and eventually lose sight in the affected eye.
There are several ways to treat eyelid agenesis in cats, depending on the severity of the condition. If the agenesis is mild and presents little irritation or risk of infection, owners may be able to monitor the condition and keep the cat’s eye moisturized with artificial tear drops prescribed by a vet. If the condition continues and become a serious problem, the vet will either recommend cryosurgery or eyelid reconstruction.
Cryosurgery involves lasering off the eyelashes and hairs surrounding the eyelid so that they do not continue to come into regular contact with the eye. This may involve more than one treatment, and is costly. Even though it is effective in some cases, there is the possibility that the hair can regenerate and the problem will recur.
Eyelid reconstruction involves harvesting part of the cat’s lower eyelid and grafting it to form a new eyelid. When healed, the new eyelid will function just like any other eyelid and the cat will be able to live a normal, healthy life.
For more information about eyelid agenesis in cats, check out the following sources: