Examining the Causes and Treatments of Cats with a Visible Third Eyelid

If you have ever noticed that your cat has what looks like a third eyelid, you may be concerned about its health. This condition is called “cherry eye” and can cause problems for cats if not treated promptly. In this article, we will explore the causes and treatments of cherry eye in cats, so you can get your beloved feline back to its normal healthy state. Learn more about the signs, symptoms, diagnoses, and treatments available for cats with cherry eye.

Topic 1: Defining “Third Eyelid” in Cats

A third eyelid, or haw, is a small fleshy triangle in the inner corner of a cat’s eye. Also known as nictitating membrane, it is found in all mammals, including humans. Its purpose is to protect the eye from dirt and debris, tears, and provide a light source for vision in low-light settings. The third eyelid is largely transparent so cats can continue to watch their surroundings even when their normal eyelids close. If a cat’s third eyelid is visible and the cat is not actively blinking, it may be an indicator of illness or injury. In this case, a vet should be consulted.

Topic 2: Causes of Visible Third Eyelids in Cats

Visible third eyelids in cats, also known as third eyelid protrusions or “haw”, is a medical condition that can be caused by underlying health issues. The third eyelid, also called the nictitating membrane, is normally not visible. In this condition, the edge of the third eyelid is noticeable along the corner of the eye.

The primary cause of visible third eyelids is an inflammation of the conjunctiva (the tissue covering the eye and inner surface of the eyelid). This can be due to viral infections, like feline herpesvirus, calicivirus, or chlamydia, or even environmental irritants like dust or smoke. Another cause could be allergies from flea bites, food allergies, or contact allergies from household cleaners. Other causes include ulcerated corneas, glaucoma, or tumors behind the eyeball.

If you notice your cat’s third eyelid is protruding, it is important to seek medical attention right away. A veterinarian will likely perform a physical exam as well as bloodwork and/or diagnostic imaging to identify the underlying cause. Treatment will vary depending on the root cause, but may involve antibiotics, lubricant eyedrops, topical ointments, or oral medications.

Examining the Causes and Treatments of Cats with a Visible Third Eyelid

Topic 3: Treatments for Cats with a Visible Third Eyelid

Treatments for cats with a visible third eyelid, or nictitating membrane, depend on the underlying cause of the problem. This condition can have both medical and behavioral causes such as allergies, infections, dry eye, eye trauma, or overexposure to bright light. Your veterinarian may conduct a comprehensive medical exam, including laboratory tests, to diagnose the exact cause.

The treatment for this condition will vary depending on the underlying issue and may include medications, dietary modifications, supplements, topical ointments and drops, or even surgery. In cases of over-exposure to bright light, your vet may recommend that you keep the cat indoors and reduce the brightness of lights in the house. If the cat is suffering from an infection, then medication such as antibiotics may be prescribed.

In the case of tear duct obstructions, surgery may need to be performed. The most common procedure involves releasing the drainage mechanism responsible for moving the tears away from the eye. In other cases, surgery may involve removing excess tissue from the third eyelid.

It’s important to address the underlying cause of your cat’s visible third eyelid so that the condition doesn’t recur. With proper care, the outlook is positive for cats suffering from this condition.

Topic 4: Preventing Third Eyelid Issues in Cats

Third eyelid issues can be a serious health problem for cats and should be addressed as soon as possible. To prevent these issues, pet owners must practice general preventive measures, such as regularly cleaning their cat’s eyes and providing adequate nutrition. Proper hygiene can be achieved by gently wiping around their cat’s eyes with a soft cotton ball soaked in warm water and saline solution to help keep them clean and free of tear stains. Additionally, offering your cat a balanced diet that is high in essential fatty acids and amino acids can help to maintain the eye tissue and supporting structures.

In some cases, third eyelid issues are caused by underlying medical conditions, such as allergies, infections, or primary eyelid diseases. For these cases, it is important to get a diagnosis from a veterinarian in order to properly treat the underlying cause. If left untreated, these conditions can consist of corneal ulceration, keratitis, and conjunctivitis, all of which are painful and can cause serious health complications for your cat.

In conclusion, regular monitoring and proper preventive measures such as good hygiene and nutrition can greatly help in preventing third eyelid issues in cats. If you do notice a change in your cat’s eyes though, visit your veterinarian to ensure there is not an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.


In conclusion, a visible third eyelid can be an indication of eye health issues in cats. Therefore, if your cat shows signs of this issue, it is important to consult a veterinarian for the correct diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan. While the cause of third eyelid exposure can vary, treatments may include surgical removal, antibiotics, or using artificial tear formulations to improve lubrication and reduce discomfort. With proper diagnosis and timely treatments, you can help keep your cat’s eyes healthy and its vision clear.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *