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What We Know About Bambi’s Eyes

Bambi's left eye

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.

Bambi's left eye diagram

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:

  • age,
  • excess exposure to UV light,
  • nutrition (decreased intake Vitamin A, E, C, Riboflavin),
  • metabolic/diabetes,
  • previous infection inflammation (uveitis) in the eye,
  • trauma, or
  • genetics.

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.

November 1, 2020

Bambi's right eye

Comments(23)

  1. REPLY
    Carey says

    Oh that sounds serious. In the study of the African eles do they suffer when cataracts and lens luxation befall them? Do we know? Thank you for your report Trish, and your care.

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      reply from Trish- This data was found in Elephants that had been shot in Tsavo national park in 1966

      So no idea if the wild Elephants were suffering but probably not since animals generally adapt so well

  2. REPLY
    Carol says

    Awwww. Poor Bambi. Not easy getting old…😔☺️

    • REPLY
      Beji says

      Good girl, Bambi. Let the experts take care of you. They are as important to you as you are to them. If you only knew how special you are and how many of us are rooting for you. You are most certainly loved ❤️

  3. REPLY
    Sallie says

    Thank you for this detailed info re Bambi’s eyes. So helpful in understanding the total picture. I would love for her to eventually see out of both eyes! But blood work is the #1 Priority for our sweet girl, as is her general health and stability. Be well and safe, Miss Bambi! We all love you to bits and know how much you love your new life with your Gal Friends! 💕💕💕💕💕🎺🐘

  4. REPLY
    Nancy Nortell says

    Poor girl. Is there anything to do to help correct this? Will she eventually go blind in that eye? Sending love and hugs to her!

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      Both, the smell is wonderful, and if we can smell it, we can only imagine how lovely it smells to them. But the landscape in the burned areas has gone from black to bright green. It’s beautiful and obvious. 🙂

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      We don’t believe she has vision in the one eye at this point. She may see shadows, but that’s probably it. The other one may end up being ok.

  5. REPLY
    FRANCINE FORD says

    Wow, thank you for the detailed explanation on what’s probably going on with sweet Ms Bambi’s eyes. I have no doubt that she’s getting the best of care at Sanctuary. More so than her years in the zoos.
    Great info, great pics & diagrams! Again, thank you so much for the care you give to your pachydermal charges. There’s a place for y’all for darn sure! Please blow Miss Bambs a kiss from me. And give yourselves HUGE, elephant hugs.
    ❤🐘❤🐘❤🐘❤🐘❤🐘

  6. REPLY
    Nancy Shaw says

    Thank you Trish!

  7. REPLY
    Kathleen Ryan says

    Thank you for the update on Bambi. May God continue to Bless you and your Staff and give you what you need financially to rescue more Elephants.

  8. REPLY
    Carol in Canada says

    Thank you! I know I wasn’t alone, in wondering about this – and in appreciating the educational gold. Cheers

  9. REPLY
    Sunny says

    Thank you Trish for share this info with us. Have a noche sunday night.

  10. REPLY
    Julie says

    Thank you so much for this post. Please keep us posted as you know more. And as always I am so grateful these ladies have a big, beautiful, knowledgable, and dedicated care team. Thanks again!

  11. REPLY
    Barb says

    Thank you Trish for giving us the update on Bambi’s eye condition. Having to deal with cataracts myself, I have empathy with her. But as you pointed out, it doesn’t seem to slow her down. That’s my motto as well. The diagrams were really helpful. I learned a new term, luxated.

  12. REPLY
    Wim says

    So sad for you sweet Bambi. After all your trials in life another burden to carry. Luckily you’re at the right place in professional hands.
    Wish you strength and courage. 🙏🐘🙏

  13. REPLY
    S. Kelly says

    Thanks so much for the info on Bambi’s eyes — especially the current condition of her left eye. Your update was very informative and greatly appreciated. Thanks to all of you for the wonderful work you have done and continue to do, day in and day out!!!

  14. REPLY
    Sidney says

    Informative and clear info re Bambi’s eye situation. Nothing like an image/diagram to make info accessible. Many thanks for the update and for the love, empathy, and devotion
    that you shower our girls with.

  15. REPLY
    Bo says

    Comfort treatment for the lovely girl, which they all receive already, and often that is all the treatment you can give and sometimes perhaps it is the best treatment.
    She is stronger and braver than we suspect, I am sure of it.

  16. REPLY
    Rosie P says

    Thank you, Trish, for the detailed info on Bambi’s eyes. At least they can be monitored and the right eye treated to help prevent or the condition worsening….or, at least, to slow it down and keep a check on it. Blood work is more important for the present, I guess, and Bambi does appear to enjoy her new life at the sanctuary, not being hampered too much by her poor vision. We would all love her to be able to see well again but her general health must come first.
    Thank you for taking such good care of her.

  17. REPLY
    SHEILA says

    OH DEAR SWEET❤️ BAMBI🐘❗️ POOR BAMBI MUST STRUGGLE AT TIMES WITH SIGHT! BUT SHES MANAGING QUITE GOOD.❗️ SHES ACTIVE AND ALMOST RUNS❗️
    I HOPE HER LIMBS AND FEET ARE GREAT! AND MAYBE SOON YOU FOLKS WILL FIND OUT MORE ON HER OTHER ISSUES! SHES SO 😀🐘HAPPY NOW AT SANCTUARY, AS THAT ZOO LIFE WAS DIFFICULT FOR HER! I HOPE IN NEAR FUTURE SHE WILL BE ABLE TO HAVE CATARACTS REMOVED❗️ I PRAY 🙏HER KIDNEYS WILL BE OK, YOU FOLKS GIVE HER EXCELLENT VITAMINS! AND CARE! IM ALSO 🙏PRAYING BAMBI CAN JOIN 🐘MARA,🐘RANA 🐘,MAIA SO THEY CAN HELP HER OUT IF SHE GETS CLOUDIER VISON!

  18. REPLY
    Angelina says

    Thanks, Trish! Thankfully, here eyes are not holding her back at all – ha! understatement! – and she does not have to worry about predators.

    Folks who feel sad for her, feel happy that she is at the sanctuary. It sounds like she is having the time of her life!

    I have had a geriatric parrot who was losing vision in her eyes and it could cause her some insecurity at times. (I had to make sure I didn’t change anything so that she could run around freely in her play areas and not misstep as she was fast; she was a non-flighted formerly feral rescue from a wildlife hospital.) None of that is happening with Bambi.

    For another bit of a perspective, I am these ladies’ age and I have something called pigment dispersion syndrome in both eyes, which means the eyes’ drainage network gets clogged and eye pressure goes up (which can cause glaucoma when it gets out of hand which can damage the optic nerve). This is because the lens rubs against the iris. (the latter also affects focusing; I am nearsighted) When I started using my eye drops, I was much better able to focus in the distance and it was as if there had been a bit of a gray veil in my vision that had been removed. But elephants also use sound to communicate across distance, which we humans don’t do. Unlike Bambi, I have no damage, no scars. I’ve been told – years ago – that I also had the very early beginnings of cataracts but that it was a kind of cataract that would not affect my vision.

    Of course, elephant eyes are different.

    The bottom line is probably that some of these changes if they happen are gradual, not necessarily dramatic. (That is not the same as “can be ignored”; that is not what I am saying.)

    I have wondered though if any bloodwork has been done on her in the meantime and if there is more clarity on whether she had any renal issues or not. Hopefully not. I think that there was an idea that there might be? Likely because she was losing weight at the zoo?

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      Bambi has yet to be trained for blood draw, that will take some time. The possibility of her having renal issues came from urinalysis results in conjunction with her weight loss. She is on supportive therapy, since it won’t harm her if she doesn’t have issues, but it will still be a little while before we have results either way. Thanks for sharing.

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