Phacoemulsification: A Sight-Restoring Solution for Pet Rabbits

Imagine watching your beloved pet rabbit struggle with cataracts, slowly losing its vision over time. This heart-wrenching scenario became a reality for the owner of a 3-year-old male Lop rabbit. Seeking a solution, they turned to Cornell University-Hospital for Animals (CUHA) for help.

A Tale of Two Cataracts

The rabbit had been living with bilateral cataracts for a few months, and its owner noticed that it had become blind in the two weeks leading up to the visit at CUHA. The referring veterinarian had previously diagnosed the rabbit with a mature cataract in the right eye (OD) and an immature cataract in the left eye (OS). Routine tests had shown no abnormalities, except for an indication of infection. With these findings, the rabbit was referred to CUHA for further evaluation.

Evaluating the Rabbit’s Condition

Upon arrival at CUHA, the rabbit appeared to be in good physical health, with no abnormalities observed during the examination. Ophthalmic examination revealed mature cataracts in both eyes (OU). Neuro-ophthalmic examination confirmed that the rabbit’s palpebral, dazzle, and pupillary light reflexes were all normal. Intraocular pressure (IOP) was within the normal range. Further tests, such as flash electroretinography and ocular ultrasound, were performed to assess the rabbit’s vision and eye structure. The results were promising, except for the presence of the cataracts.

Preparing for Surgery

Two days prior to the surgery, the rabbit began a regimen of topical medications to ensure optimal eye health. On the day of the procedure, the rabbit received additional topical treatments to prepare for surgery. To ensure the rabbit’s comfort and safety, it was given a combination of pre-medication and anesthesia. The surgical team induced general anesthesia, intubated the rabbit, and maintained anesthesia using sevoflurane. With the rabbit in a controlled state, the surgeon proceeded to perform phacoemulsification.

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Overcoming Challenges

During the surgery, the surgeon encountered some challenges. The pupil did not fully dilate, and the iris started to protrude through the incision. To address this, the surgeon used viscoelastic to reintroduce the iris into the anterior chamber (AC) throughout the procedure. While the right eye (OD) remained aphakic (without an intraocular lens), the left eye (OS) received an acrylic intraocular lens implant.

A Speedy Recovery

Following the procedure, the rabbit recovered smoothly without any complications. Postoperative medications such as topical antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs were prescribed to promote healing. Subsequent check-ups revealed that the rabbit’s eye pressure fluctuated but eventually stabilized within the normal range. Mild corneal edema and dyscoria were noted during the recovery period, but these issues resolved with time.

A Delightful Outcome

Months after the surgery, the rabbit’s vision remained intact, providing relief and joy to its owner. The rabbit even exhibited a preference for using its pseudophakic eye (the one with the implanted lens) when searching for its owner or interesting objects. This heartwarming testament to the success of the surgery showcased the positive impact of phacoemulsification in restoring sight to our beloved furry friends.

For pet owners seeking more information or assistance with their rabbits’ eye health, Katten TrimSalon is a trusted resource. Visit Katten TrimSalon to learn more about their services and schedule an appointment.