Cataracts in Rabbits
A cataract is an opaque film on the lens of the eye, and may mean the lens is entirely or only partially clouded. In most instances, cataracts are present at the rabbit's birth.
Symptoms and Types
- Lens is partially or fully opaque
- Eye discharge (hyper-mature cataract)
- Swelling of the iris
- White nodule-like bumps on the iris
- Immature – lens partially covered
- Mature – entire lens covered
- Hypermature – lens liquefaction has occurred
Cataracts are most commonly present at birth. However, it may develop spontaneously and with no known cause.
It occurs for many reasons, but is usually related to a bacterial infection (encephalitozoon cuniculi). Other causes include a nutritional deficiency or elevated levels of glucose in the blood. Cataracts may also develop spontaneously with no known cause.
Cataracts are generally evident by the opaque (cloudy) appearance of the lens. The veterinarian may run tests if bacterial infection is suspected. Other analyses include a urine analysis to test for infectious disease and blood tests.
In cases where the rabbit has a white mass protruding from the eye, a sign which may indicate cataracts, alternate diagnoses may conclude an abscess in the eye or an unnatural growth of cells (neoplasia), such as a tumor in the eye.
Surgery to remove cataracts is the primary treatment method, and can be performed on both congenital and spontaneous cataracts. The sooner the surgery is done, the better the prognosis. Various medications may also be prescribed, especially in cases of bacterial infection.
Living and Management
Following the treatment, the rabbit should be carefully monitored for signs of cataract recurrence. Owners should be aware of possible complications such as glaucoma and retinal detachment. If surgery is successful, prognosis is good.
In some cases however, surgical treatment is not an option in which case prognosis for the health of the affected eye is guarded – most of these cases will progress until the rabbit contracts glaucoma in the damaged eye.
There are no specific methods of prevention when it comes to cataracts because most cases are congenital -- and thus unstoppable -- or spontaneous with no known cause.