Corneal sequestrum (brown/black plaque in a cat's eye)

February 19th, 2017

Corneal sequestrum is an unusual and unique disorder affecting the cornea of cats. A brown-black plaque forms in the corneal tissue, often causing significant discomfort. The cause of the problem is not known. Persian and Himalayan breeds are affected most frequently, but any breed can develop this problem. In over 50% of cases, a corneal ulcer or abrasion has preceded the formation of the sequestrum. There are sometimes other predisposing factors, especially Feline Herpesvirus.

There are two treatment options for corneal sequestrum. The first option is to medicate the eye with topical antibiotics and lubricants to prevent infection while waiting for the sequestrum to slough (fall off). The average time to heal is three months. This can be a painful process, and occasionally results in a very deep defect and possible corneal rupture. Because of this, surgical removal of the sequestrum is usually recommended. With surgery the average time to healing is three to four weeks. Surgery is performed under general anesthesia. The cat is usually required to wear an Elizabethan collar to protect the eye until it heals. With either treatment, there is a 12% reoccurrence rate of sequestrum formation.           

Kent M. Burgesser, PhD, DVM, MS

Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists

Veterinary Specialists and Emergency Services