Eye Removal Surgery

Follow the care HCB's Blackberry received as she went through eye removal surgery

Amy J - Big Bunny at HCB

2/19/20244 min read

The bunny pictured above, Blackberry, was one of the rabbits we wrote about in our post about e. cuniculi. Following her recuperation, Blackberry was placed with a very loving young woman as her emotional support bunny. They enjoyed nearly four wonderful years together when things started to go badly, health-wise, for both of them. Blackberry's Bun-Mom developed severe hay allergies and some other things she needed to deal with, while Blackberry was diagnosed with an entropion eye by her vet in their home state of California. An entropion eye means that the eyelid is curling in and the eyelashes irritate the eye and can cause all sorts of nasty discharge and eye infections. She had been on special eyedrops to clear up the infections but, while they served their purpose, the problem was never able to be cured.

(Entropion can affect humans as well as most animal species. We had a cat with this diagnosis, and the problem was easily cured by a simple surgical procedure. This is not an option, for rabbits, however.)

Blackberry came back to live at Hot Cross Buns in November 2022 following unsuccessful attempts to find a good home for her in California when it was deemed necessary for her human mom's health that re-homing would be necessary. We welcomed her back with open arms and set out to learn what could be done to help fix her eye problem. Her Bun-Mom was devastated about being parted from her, but knew that we would do right by Blackberry and keep her in apprised of decisions and treatments regarding her care. Blackberry was and is a very beloved little girl.

She came back to us with an infection and drops to treat it, but, after seeing her discomfort and the inevitability of more recurring infection on the horizon, we knew something more drastic needed to be done. She could only look at the world through one eye and her neck was perpetually crooked so her infected eye was down and her good eye was looking upwards. This was very reminiscent of the way she held her head as a young rabbit, while she was being treated for e. cuniculi.

We have a wonderful client who volunteers at the Cleveland Metro Parks Zoo and she urged us to consult her bunny savvy vet about Blackberry's care. Dr. Mike Selig is one of the many wonderful vets at the zoo and he works one day each month at a practice in Euclid, OH. We were able to get an appointment the following week and nervously awaited the appointment that would determine the best course of action for treating Blackberry's eye, once and for all.

Upon examining her, Dr. Selig discovered that all of her problems most likely arose from a blocked tear duct that could have potentially been cured by having it flushed thoroughly the first time she developed an infection. Had she been diagnosed properly, she had a very good chance of living a normal life with two healthy eyes. Because she had repeated infections, scar tissue developed in the tear duct and flushing was no longer an option. It was chronically inflamed and the recommended course of treatment was to have her eye removed. Very thankfully, Dr. Selig was able to perform the surgery that day. The eye was removed and the eyelids were sewn shut. She went home with five days worth of pain medication/antibiotics and we were told that she would most likely always have an exaggerated head-tilt, to help her adapt to the lack of vision on one side of her body, which has dramatically affected her depth-perception.

Two weeks following her surgery, we're still cleaning up a bit of drainage from the affected area. We're very hopeful that her fur will grow back and cover most of the eye area, so she looks more approachable and whole. Blackberry is doing well and is as lovable and sweetly spunky as ever. We are careful to be noisy before entering her room, so she knows we're coming, and we make certain she can see us before approaching her. We never want to alarm her with concerns that there could be a predator nearby. Ideally, her exercise pen will be placed in an alcove, where there are three walls around her, so she will never be startled by someone approaching from behind.

Once Blackberry has adjusted to life with one healthy eye, we hope to place her in a wonderful home where she will be adored. She may not look like other bunnies, but she is as special and loving as can be.

UPDATE 3/22/23 Blackberry is doing beautifully! She has been placed as a bonding buddy with a family who adopted Guacamole, a Bun whose mama nibbled off his ear at birth. Prior to her placement, there was some concern that she might need to have a second surgery because she developed an infection and didn't respond to her first course of antibiotics. Thankfully, a different antibiotic cleared everything up and her eye has now healed over perfectly. The fur has grown back and she is as happy as can be. Bonding has been very successful and they are adoring their new life together with their incredible family. A huge bonus (for us) is that we get to see them from time to time because their new family attend our church and we volunteered to trim their nails any time our services are needed. <3

UPDATE ..Just a few months after being placed with her amazing new family, Blackberry was diagnosed with severe kidney failure after receiving bloodwork at the vet. Because there was nothing that could be done to treat her, they made the very difficult decision to have Blackberry euthanized. We will be forever grateful that they gave her so much love and joy during her final months. When he was ready for a new friend, Guacamole was matched with another retired doe, Moxie. They are doing great together.