Why does my cat have eye discharge?

Hello Dr. Barchas, My little fellow Buda is having a lot of discharge from his eyes (brownish tears). I took him to the vet and...

Dr. Eric Barchas  |  Jul 20th 2006


Is Eye Discharge Worrisome?

Hello Dr. Barchas,

My little fellow Buda is having a lot of discharge from his eyes
(brownish tears). I took him to the vet and was told that is very common for
his breed (Sphynx) to have their eyelids rolled inwards, thus causing
a lot of tearing and discharge. Sphynx are definitely very rare in
Mexico so I’m not sure this is the right diagnosis, as we’ve been giving
him eye drops and he’s still having lots of discharge. Do you have any
recommendations? What could be the problem? How can it be fixed?

Thank you very much,

Alejandra
Mexico City, Mexico

There may be another explanation for the discharge from Buda’s eyes.

Most medical conditions that cause excessive tearing or mucus production in the eyes also cause irritation. Irritated eyes usually are red and uncomfortable. Pets with eye problems therefore usually hold their eyes partially (or completely) closed (they squint), and their eyes may be red or puffy. They may rub their eyes or act as if bright light hurts them.

If Buda’s eyes are comfortable and appear completely normal other than the discharge, what you are seeing is probably nothing to worry about.

During the course of the day (and night), the eyes are bathed in tears, which naturally have a brown tinge. The tears normally drain from the eye into the nose through a duct. In some pets, this drainage system does not work properly, causing tears to spill out of the eyes. This usually is harmless.

As well, even pets with proper drainage will build up deposits of mucus in the corner of the eye. This happens to people too, but we rub them out as they form. So, the reason most pets get occasional “eye boogers” is that they don’t have fingers with which to remove them.

That said, any person who is worried that their pet has excessive eye discharge should take him to the vet for an assessment. Eyes are a sensitive part of the body, and it is better to be safe than sorry.