Tennis-Ball Sized Contacts Prescribed for Elephant
Eye problems in elephants are not easy to diagnose.
C’sar, a 38 year old elephant, residing in a North Carolina zoo, began worrying veterinarians and zookeepers alike when he began loosing weight, acting lethargic and otherwise behaving ill.
“He just stood around and leaned against the walls,” said senior veterinarian Ryan DeVoe. “He was just not interested in anything going on around him.”
Eventually, he was diagnosed as vision impaired.
To treat this, the vets first attempted cataract surgery. Before surgery, zoo official feared they would have to put C’sar down.
After two surgeries, he is now a brighter, more active animal but still far-sighted. Because of this, veterinarians have prescribed tennis-ball sized contacts lenses.
“It’s never been used before in an elephant or in many animal species, and so it’s a little bit difficult for us to predict how it would affect him,” said Richard McMullen, assistant professor of veterinary ophthalmology at North Carolina State University. McMullen performed both of C’Sar’s cataract surgeries.
The lenses will remain on the 12,000 pound elephant for three months at a time.