Cataracts in rabbits

Cataracts Cataracts: a clouding of the pupil of a rabbits eye
*Cloudy pupil
*Whitish coloring of the pupil
*Damage to the eye such as a cut or scrape
*Disease or bacterial infection
*Nutritional deficiency *Genetic

A whitish coloring affecting the pupil of a bunny’s eye is most likely cataracts though a rabbit trained veterinarian should make the official diagnosis. A number of different situations could cause cataracts and in some cases they are treatable.

Damage such as a cut, scrape or inflammation to the eye is the most common cause of cataracts. A rabbit trained veterinarian will use an ophthalmoscope to look into the bunny’s eye to determine if the whitish coloration is indeed a cataract. By shining a bright light into the eye, the doctor can determine if the rabbit can see. If the whitish area (pupil) contracts and expands when light is shined into and moved away from the eye, it is possible that the bunny can still see to some extent. This type of cataract is usually treated with medications to reduce inflammation and allow the eye damage to heal.

In the case of cataracts resulting from disease or bacterial infection, the doctor will be able to conduct tests to see if a disease or infection is the cause. These tests could include developing a culture from a swab of the eye surface or blood tests to check for disease. Antibiotic treatments or special eye drops may help clear up this type of cloudy eye.

Cataracts in rabbits due to nutritional deficiency has yet to be proven, and rabbits developing diabetes is said to be extremely rare or non-existent.

Finally, congenital or genetic cataracts - cataracts present at birth and become pronounced as a rabbit ages. It is not known exactly why the whitish discoloration of the cataract becomes more pronounced as a rabbit ages, therefore, there is no known way to prevent the progression. Medication such as Prednisolne Acetate drops may help decrease the size and density of cataracts in some rabbits. There is also the possibility of surgery, though I have not found any data regarding the success of surgery, nor have I yet been able to contact any surgeon that has performed this operation on a bunny.

A blind rabbit such as Brownie at the rescue, or a rabbit with impaired vision, can still lead a happy healthy life. Just make sure you do not make any sudden changes in its environment. Just like a blind human, a blind rabbit will learn where things in its hutch and playroom are, and will be able to navigate those areas just as well as a sighted bunny.