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Update on my Cat’s Glaucoma Drama: There is Hope!

For anyone that didn’t read last week’s blog post about my oldest cat, he was diagnosed with Glaucoma and his left eye was supposedly totally gone. I blamed myself for this vision loss, as I had not made it a big enough priority.

After relocating to a new state at Thanksgiving and all that comes with setting up life in a new area and unpacking, I’d not been quick enough to get him to the vet the month after we moved here. Then when I got him to one in February, that went horribly wrong. Then in March, I was able to get in to see the original vet we wanted to try via Angie’s List and there was the bad news I’d dreaded. No vision left in one eye.

This week marks a 3rd vet opinion from an eye care specialist for animals. I now have a glimmer of hope attached to the expensive $301 vet bill and 3 additional medications that are specifically just for his eyes. This vet does not think his eye is totally gone and there could be a slim chance for some retrieval of vision if the anti-inflammatory drugs and pressure drops get the pupil back into normalcy. Also, this specialist said that unless Punkin was put on drops he could very well develop vision loss in the other eye, whereas both of the other vets had said that was unlikely. So, I am sticking with the specialist’s opinion.

I could have hugged the man, but I restrained myself. This is the only location that has an opthamologist for animals here in El Paso and they only have the doctor here on Tuesdays. He flies in directly from Phoenix every Tuesday, if you can believe that!

So, Punkin must be given these drops every day in addition to his blood pressure medicine and his eye ointment which keeps his eye moist. It’s a real pain to try and give a cat meds ( for that matter do anything a cat doesn’t want you to do), but I hope they can help him during this late stage of life.

Special tip: Again it is worth mentioning that even though the Banfield Hospital vet was less than knowledgeable, he did give one good tip to get meds cheaper via online coupon to take to your local pharmacy. It isn’t just for pet meds, it is for all meds. Good RX is a free online service that allows you to compare costs at local pharmacies for medicine that either your vet can’t fill at their locations or are really expensive, even with insurance. I was also referred there again today by the pet opthamologist when I discovered one of his eye drop bottles was damaged and had leaked out. They don’t fly in until next Tuesday, so they refunded me the med cost and faxed in a script to the cheapest pharmacy once they looked at the Good RX website comparison. This cost me $44 at the eye vet yesterday, but now via Good RX it should only cost me $16.06 when I go to pick up at CVS with the coupon I printed. So, if you are challenged by expensive meds, even if you have insurance…give that site a visit and see if you can get it cheaper via their coupon once you compared pricing at local pharmacies in your list per zip code you enter.

Well, keep your fingers crossed for Punkin’s eyes. Already, the drops have made his pupil get back to a semi-normal size. I remain hopeful that a miracle can restore his vision, even if only a little bit. I’ll take what improvement I can get and I know Punkin will feel better relieving pressure from his eyes now that we know about Glaucoma. Here’s a cute pic of him today as he was resting inside his cat climber on our back porch. (Check out behind him. Mr. Blinky had apparently already been inside the box when Punkin decided to climb in, too. hahaha).

Diagnosis: My 18 Year Old Cat Has Glaucoma and it is Momma’s Fault

My poor geriatric kitty has now been diagnosed with Glaucoma. The extra bad part about this is that Punkin’s eye may not have completely died if I had not been preoccupied with other things since moving to Texas. His pupil first dilated in late December at Christmas. We’d moved to TX on Thanksgiving week, so he’d been stressed out since about that time. Our neighbor suggested a vet that she uses for her dogs which I now wish I’d steered clear of and just tried the ones I looked up on Angie’s List. We took him to Banfield Vet in PetSmart (do not go to the one in El Paso). When I finally took him in February, it was extremely dilated.

Anyway, upon taking him to another vet this Tuesday, his opinion is that Punkin’s eye is totally gone. He had no response to the light test. This new vet also did a metal gadget test (Schiotz Tonometer) on his eye which read at 60 points pressure. He said a cat is normally supposed to be around a 12 points. He didn’t even recommend the expensive drops ($150) for Glaucoma since Punkin has never rubbed his eyes in pain and appears to not be bothered by it the way most cats are. He did give us some eye gel to keep the eye moist. He said the next step if Punkin’s pressure starts causing him pain in the blind eye is to remove his poor little eyeball.

So, after crying like a baby in front of these brand new people seeing my cat for the first time, this horrible excuse of a mother took her poor geriatric baby to the car where I sobbed more and he meowed louder. Now I’ve scheduled a 3rd opinion with an eye care ophthalmologist for animals for next week. Trying a last ditch effort since they specialize in this stuff. I want to see what their opinion is on the drops and if it matches the Coronado Vet’s opinion that this can’t somehow be reversed .

His pupil dilated over a year ago and the Yuma vet put him on blood pressure meds (his blood pressure stayed in the 200’s at that time). These meds (Amlodipine) made the eye better by reducing his blood pressure (or so we thought). His pupil didn’t do this again for over a year, shortly after we moved him here to El Paso. His pupil was slightly dilated again late December, but would go back to normal quickly, so we figured it was the stress of the move, his being pent up inside the house and being walked on a leash. Here’s a look at Punkin’s eye in that window of time:

This Banfield vet gave us an allergy gel last month for his eye and told us they didn’t do eye or glaucoma tests, but referred us to the opthamologist if his eye didn’t get better after a month. Since his blood pressure was fine, those meds were still working and he said it was probably the stress of the move and new surroundings with possible newly developed allergies which is apparently common in El Paso. Needless to say, after that debacle (they lost our records from Yuma, took forever to see Punkin and couldn’t do simple eye tests), I moved forward with trying to get a new vet. It did take a few weeks, which is right about another month and the allergy gel had no effect on his pupil dilation. The gel he gave us is dangerous for Glaucoma, according to this new vet this week. It had Cortisone in it which is a no-no. Great.

For 20+ years, I have always cared for all of my furbabies better than I do myself or even my hubby. (Poor guy). This time, however, because of the move and unpacking and all the other things going on being new to El Paso, I kept putting off getting Punkin to a new vet out here and apparently chose very poorly¬†last month with Banfield . For this, I am deeply ashamed and don’t know how to look at myself moving forward.

Punkin is very forgiving, however. He snuggles with me and he’s been running around the house like a kitten, acting like he’s A-ok. He’s back to being supervised outside again which he hates, especially since he’s trying to climb the wall to get to the neighbor’s yard like an idiot. I’ve been keeping him inside mostly since last month. I’m afraid he’ll walk into a pointy cactus and pop his eye or something. I’ve been trimming out things he might walk into, but it still makes me paranoid so I watch him like a hawk.

Anyway, for all my cat friends…if your kitties experience a dilated pupil, bright red blood vessels in the top of their inner lid/eye and appear to have cloudiness in the pupil area, get them to a GOOD VET who will do a light test and a test with the pressure Schiotz tonometer! Get it diagnosed EARLY enough to hopefully help reduce pressure on the eye before it’s too late.

This 2nd vet did say with Punkin being 18, he’s in excellent health for his age and that Glaucoma is normal for older animals. No matter how much you do for them, they can still lose their vision. That doesn’t make me feel better.

That is my drama for the day. I despise getting older, but I really hate it when it is also effecting one of my babies and they begin losing their health. It’s my fault, in a way, on this situation and so I hate it even worse. Well, hug your furbabies!