What are Bulging of the Eyes?
In many cases, exophthalmos can generally be treated by removing the presence behind it. While fear and stress can create a temporary condition that will naturally subside with a lowered blood pressure, treating more serious underlying causes, ranging from an infection to cancer, is extremely important to prevent reoccurrence and further complications.
Buphthalmia is the condition of bulging eyes in rabbits that is enlarged due to glaucoma. The more common exophthalmos designates a condition of an abnormal bulging of the eyes due to the eyeball getting pushed out of the socket from a tumor, abscess or pressure behind it. Both conditions generally affect only one of the eyes, though they can affect both eyes in rare cases.
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Symptoms of Bulging of the Eyes in Rabbits
The primary symptom of exophthalmos or buphthalmia is:
- One or both eyes bulging out of the socket
Secondary symptoms that may be signs of an underlying condition causing the bulging can include:
- Decreased eyesight
- Change in eating habits
- Open mouth breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Decreased appetite
- Misaligned teeth
- Presence of pain
- Runny eyes
- Excessive drinking
- Buphthalmia is the condition of bulging eyes in rabbits that is enlarged due to glaucoma.
- Exophthalmos, which is much more common, is a condition of bulging eyes caused by the eyeball itself being pushed out of the socket, such as by a mass in the eye socket, or raised blood pressure.
Causes of Bulging of the Eyes in Rabbits
The causes of a bulging eye can include:
- Abscess located behind the eye
- Tumor behind the eye, or orbital neoplasms
- Blood clot behind the eye
- Thymoma, or a mass or tumor in chest, which leads to an accumulation of blood behind the eye
- Fear or stress, which increases blood pressure
- Genetic predisposition, predominately in New Zealand White rabbits
- Dental disease, such as malocclusion or abscess
- Breeding season, as this can temporarily cause the males eyes to bulge
- Taenia serialis cyst, or a tapeworm infestation
- Fat pads behind the eye
- Salivary mucocele in lower eyelid, or cyst formed from an accumulation of saliva
Diagnosis of Bulging of the Eyes in Rabbits
After a thorough clinical and oral examination has been done, various conditions can be diagnosed with further testing if suspected. If stress, fear or the mating season are to blame, the condition should subside on its own with no further action taken. For an abscess, cultures will be taken to identify any pathogens. A blood count and biopsy may be performed, tissue samples may be examined, and X-rays taken.
A chest mass or tumor can be identified with x-rays and ultrasounds. Needle biopsies and ultrasound guided aspirates may be performed. Tissue samples collected from any abnormal masses will be analyzed, and along with other symptoms, such as open mouthed breathing, shortness of breath, and dyspnea, may point to thymoma. This is a tumor that originates from thymus tissue, and can lead to an increase in blood pressure behind the eyes.
An ultrasound of the eye may be performed to locate an issue behind the eye itself. MRI or a CT scan may also be used to localize the cause. This can help identify cellulitis, which creates painful lesions, and usually develops secondary to an upper respiratory infection. Cultures are taken to identify infecting bacteria, and sensitivity tests may be performed. It can also identify a taenia serialis cyst. X-rays, needle aspirates, and tissue samples will help with this as well.
Measuring the eye pressure can correctly identify if glaucoma is present. Skull and jaw X-rays and ultrasounds can accompany an oral cavity exam to identify dental issues causing your rabbit’s bulging eye.
Treatment of Bulging of the Eyes in Rabbits
For a cause originating with dental disease such as abscesses, infections, and tooth root overgrowth, appropriate dental care will be needed. This may entail antibiotics, proper maintenance of misaligned teeth, such as filing and diet change, and possibly even surgery.
For any abscesses present, cleaning out of pus and surgical removal may be needed, along with antibiotics, fluid intake and proper nutrition. Depending on the severity, the rabbit may be sedated.
Glaucoma will be treated with eye drops, but generally only works to slow progression of the disease until blindness occurs.
For cases of thymoma, radiation therapy and surgery are commonly used in treatment. Complications after surgery are common, with a 50% rate of survival, and a good chance of eradication of the disease. Radiation therapy carries about 80% survival rate, but with a higher chance of reoccurrence. Treatment of a taenia serialis infestation can include surgery to remove the cyst, as well as administering antiparasitics.
A fat pad behind the eye causing the condition can be treated by a weight loss regimen. Treatment of a salivary mucocele is with surgery, periodic drainage of the cyst, or even gland duct removal. In cases of cellulitis, antibiotics, topical antiseptics, and cool balls can be administered. Surgery to remove lesions may be required.
Recovery of Bulging of the Eyes in Rabbits
In all cases, keep fur around the eyes clean and dry to prevent infections. Feeding and fluid intake may be needed in some cases of recovery. Ensure proper eating habits to prevent further complications. If an abscess is the cause but could not be removed, flushing the wound at home twice daily until gone is advised. Careful monitoring of the abscess to ensure it doesn’t increase in size or severity may also be advised. The environment should be clean and dry, and stress free to speed recovery time. Monitor your rabbit’s weight, and watch for abnormalities in urine and feces. Call your veterinarian if your rabbit’s health does not improve, or worsens.
To prevent reoccurrence, common in rabbits, keep the environment hygienic. Clean wounds immediately, keep flies away from rabbits, reduce obesity, and prevent access to sharp objects that could harm your rabbit. If an abscess is left untreated, a rabbit could die from infection, so take your rabbit to the veterinarian for follow-up if it shows signs of a reoccurrence.
In glaucoma affected rabbits, eye drops may be prescribed to slow affliction. A stable environment will help when it succumbs to blindness, as will a companion rabbit who can guide your rabbit in movement and to food. Any after care from surgery, such as medications for pain and antibiotics, as well as grooming and cleaning, will be prescribed as needed. Thymoma recovery usually includes home monitoring for a length of time, as well as veterinary visits to check for reoccurrences.
Bulging of the Eyes Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
Hi taking our rabbit who is 8 years old and is a miniature lop angora, has a bulging eye, the eye is very much out and the vet told us they had to sedate to open a large cyst to remove a lot of pus, now in treating him with antibiotic and drops. They have told us if know improvements in three to five days only way forward is to remove his eye. not sure if this would be to stressful at the rabbits age.
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My rabbit is about 8-9 years old and her eye is popping out. What is the best thing to do? Is this something for an emergency vet to see or can it wait? I just noticed this today?
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I am wondering if you could tell me what's wrong with my rabbit? He is making strange noises while shaking his head and has bulging eyes. He is eating and drinking like normal and seems ok in himself apart from these symptoms. I did notice some diarrhoea in his cage also. My vet diagnosed it as stress and high blood pressure.
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