Another guest post from our lovely veterinarian Trish:
We just wanted to show you close up pictures of beautiful Bambi’s eyes and explain what we currently know about her eyes.
- Bambi’s right eye has a very early, immature cataract that can only be seen in certain lighting.
- Bambi’s left eye has a mature cataract and anterior lens luxation, hypopyon, and a corneal scar.
Anterior Lens luxation means the cataract has moved forward in her eye in front of the iris; we suspect due to the long period of time the lens has been luxated, she also has inflammation /uveitis of the front part of her eye.
We can also see Hypopyon (white blood cells in the eye) probably from the chronic lens luxation, inflammation, and corneal opacity (scar) possibly from a previous corneal ulcer. Bambi’s left eye does not currently appear to be causing her any pain or trouble and is definitely not slowing her down!
Possible causes of Bambi’s cataracts are:
- excess exposure to UV light,
- nutrition (decreased intake Vitamin A, E, C, Riboflavin),
- previous infection inflammation (uveitis) in the eye,
- trauma, or
Actually, in a study of wild African elephants, cataracts and lens luxation were among the highest percentage of eye issues noted, so there may be more of a genetic component than we realize. We will need to continuously monitor both eyes since the lens being luxated and the inflammation associated with that makes Bambi possibly prone to glaucoma development in her left eye. Because she does not see well from this eye, she is at risk for possible corneal ulcers from a scratch to her eye when she is out exploring. The right eye with the immature cataract could become a mature cataract and is a risk for the cataract to also luxate.
We will watch Bambi’s eyes closely for any sign of pain irritation or infection, which could be increased tear production, squinting of the eye, and increased sensitivity to light, which could indicate glaucoma developing. We will also get her used to having her intraocular pressure measured in her eyes to monitor for glaucoma. We will start her on eye drops to help keep the inflammation down in her right eye and hopefully prevent her lens from luxating in this eye also.
Cataract surgery has been done in both Asian and African elephants, but it involves general anesthesia, and we do not feel Bambi’s eyes are currently affecting her quality of life enough to perform such a major procedure at this time. We also do not have a complete picture of her health yet without a full bloodwork evaluation.
Photo of Bambi’s left eye above and right eye below.