What is a third eyelid?
The third eye lid, also known as the nictitating membrane, projects over the bottom inner corner of the eye. The third eyelid is often seen projecting when you pull up the upper eyelid of your cat. It is usually a pale pink or white in color and has thin blood vessels on its surface.
Cats and dogs both possess a third eyelid. Though the exact function of the third eyelid in cats is not fully known, it is believed to help protect their corneas from injury while they stir through tall grass or capture prey.
Noticing your cat’s third eyelid when they arise from their sleep is quite common. You can anticipate it! But if your cat’s third eyelid is present in one or both eyes and it is constantly visible, then you should consider taking your cat to your veterinarian to make sure your cat isn’t suffering from one of the following issues.
A corneal ulcer can happen if there is a scratch or a scuff on the clear surface of your cat’s eye. The third eyelid may become more prominent from this type of trauma.
The third eyelid becomes noticeably visible if your cat is severely dehydrated or experiencing weight loss due to some underlying health condition. Cats with glaucoma generally causes them to protrude their third eyelid more prominently.
The third eyelid may also appear as an indication of feline upper respiratory virus or conjunctivitis (pink eye).
Some cat breeds are generally more prone to issues with the third eyelid. The Burmese, for instance, generally experience “cherry eye,” where the gland of the third eyelid gets inflamed and sore. In such cases the nictitating membrane has to be surgically relodged.
Your cat’s third eyelid is surely a normal part of his anatomy, but only until it becomes very evident. The most important thing to keep in mind is, when you’re in doubt, it’s always wise to visit your vet regarding such issues you’re not really sure about your cat.
Early diagnosis of the visibility of the third eye in your cat is always better, in order to prevent your cat from experiencing the worsening of any underlying health condition.