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What is Cloudy Eye?

As with humans and other animals, cloudy eye (cataracts) can become a problem for your rabbit as he grows older, and is a very serious condition that requires immediate veterinarian care. It is recommended that you contact your veterinarian without delay if you notice that your rabbit's eyes are looking cloudy or are leaking. Cataracts can often lead to blindness of the affected eye.

In addition, a rabbit's eyes have nerves that connect to their brain and infections that go unnoticed or untreated can lead to encephalitis (brain infection) which can result in the death of your rabbit. The earlier cloudy eye or an infection of the eye is noticed, the better. Prompt treatment increases the chances of your rabbit not suffering from permanent eye damage.

Cloudy eye in rabbits is medically known as cataracts. This condition commonly occurs at birth and progresses with age. Cloudy eye develops as an opaque film that forms on the lens of one or both of your rabbit's eyes. This film then reduces the amount of light that passes through your rabbit's lens, affecting his ability to focus. As cloudy eye progresses, the contrast and sharpness weakens and his overall sight will be affected.

Cloudy Eye Average Cost

From 515 quotes ranging from $100 - $300

Average Cost

$200

Symptoms of Cloudy Eye in Rabbits

It is important to watch out for any changes in your rabbit’s eyes such as:

  • Cloudiness on the lens of one or both eyes
  • Liquefied discharge coming from one or both eyes
  • Swelling or mass on the iris of one or both eyes
  • Swelling in the uvea, which is the middle layer of the eye that provides most of the blood supply to the retina 

Types

  • Nuclear Cataract - Caused by a degeneration of a rabbit's lens as it ages

  • Cortical Cataract - Caused by a decrease of a rabbit's glutathione level
  • Posterior Subcapsular Cataract - Although this kind of cataract is uncommon, it is usually stress (e.g. light exposure) or medication (corticosteroids) related

Another cause for cataracts or the rupture of the lens observed in rabbits the protozoal parasite known as Encephalitozoon cuniculi.

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Causes of Cloudy Eye in Rabbits

Rabbits are often born with cloudy eye, in particular dwarf breeds. This condition can also develop due to light exposure, trauma, and for no apparent reason as your rabbit gets older. However, when a cataract develops it is usually because of bacterial infection. Additionally, the  Encephalitozoon cuniculi (e. cuniculi) is a parasite that can cause cataracts.

Cloudy eye can also develop in rabbits that are fed the wrong kind of food because they may experience increased levels of glucose in their blood. If a rabbit's food is missing essential minerals and vitamins needed to remain healthy, the chance of developing cataracts increases.

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Diagnosis of Cloudy Eye in Rabbits

Your rabbit may acquire cloudy eye suddenly for no apparent reason. Therefore, it is recommended that you contact your veterinarian immediately if your pet’s eye appears to be opaque or has a white mass coming from one or both of his eyes. This is usually a sign that cloudy eye is developing. Your rabbit could be suffering from another condition which is affecting one or both of his eyes. This can also be confused as being cloudy eye:

  • An abscess may be forming in the eye
  • An abnormal growth in the eye known as neoplasia could be developing
  • A tumor may be developing in the eye

Your veterinarian will need to carry out a series of tests to determine if there is bacteria present which may have triggered the condition. She will want to perform blood tests and a urine analysis to see if your rabbit is suffering from an infectious disease. Resulting laboratory findings will help him to establish the correct diagnosis and render an option for treatment.

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Treatment of Cloudy Eye in Rabbits

Presently there are two treatment options available for rabbits with cloudy eye. One available treatment option is the use of prescribed medication, and the other treatment option is laser surgery. How your veterinarian will want to treat the condition ultimately depends on the root cause of it.

If the cloudy eye is a congenital condition, your veterinarian will most likely recommend removing it surgically. The earlier this procedure is done, the better the outcome will be for your rabbit. However, if the condition is due to a bacterial infection, your veterinarian will most likely recommend prescription medications to treat the infection.

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Recovery of Cloudy Eye in Rabbits

Once your rabbit has undergone treatment and is on the road to recovery, you will need to monitor his condition very carefully to ensure cloudy eye doesn't reoccur. Glaucoma and retinal detachment are related complications that may develop.

Prognosis is usually very good for rabbits who have had a cataract surgically removed. However, there are times when removing a cataract surgically is not an option. Unfortunately, for rabbits that have an affected eye and surgery isn't an option, the outcome may be poor. Glaucoma in the damaged eye may result.

At this time there isn't a cure or a way of preventing cloudy eye from developing. The reason for this is, in most cases, the condition is congenital or it appears suddenly for no apparent reason. This means it is considered a spontaneous or idiopathic condition.

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Cloudy Eye Average Cost

From 515 quotes ranging from $100 - $300

Average Cost

$200

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Cloudy Eye Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Nus Nus

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mixed

dog-age-icon

6 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

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2 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

White Opague Ring In Middle Of Eye

Hi, one of my rabbits has Encephalitozoon Cunilli a year ago. His head tilt is permanent but other than that, he's doing very well. I isolated him from the other two rabbits for 90 days on the onset of his attack. But we all know the other two are probably infected already and were treated with Febendazole as well. Now, more than one year on, my other rabbit suddenly developed cataract on one eye. We suspected it's the cause of EC and now on Febendazole as well as NSAID. Surgery is not an option for him according to my vet. I wanted to try Lanomax on him but my vet says she's unsure if it's 100% cataract, saying it's inflammatory reaction from the body immune system in the vitreous fluid as a means of controlling the EC pathogens. So does this mean, cloudy eyes in rabbits caused by EC may not be cataracts? I'm a bit confused here as I really want to try Lanomax and help him instead of waiting..... TIA!! Rgds, WK

June 26, 2018

Nus Nus' Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Cataracts are only one reason for a cloudy eye, and other causes can include inflammation in the aqueous, or the vitreous, or the cornea. It would be best to follow your veterinarian's advice on medications for NusNus.

June 26, 2018

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Coco bean

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Chocolate Lion head

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9 Months

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Eye Clouding

Hello , I received a 8 month old lion head bunny from my daughter for my birthday, I realized right away his right eye has a huge cloudy spot on it , he also gets a very small amount of whit discharge from that eye every now and then . I have had him for 4 weeks now . Other wise he seems completely healthy, playful , eats well .... any idea what’s going on ? Any help would be appreciated thanks evon

June 26, 2018

Coco bean's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Rabbits can get infections and ulcers, and he may need to have that eye treated. Since there are different causes for these signs and they are treated differently, it would be best to have Coco seen by a veterinarian.

June 26, 2018

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Winnie

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Jersey Wooly

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1 Year

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Cloudy Eye
Cataract
Cloudy

I found a small gray/white spot in one of my rabbits' eyes. I assumed it was an injury, and our vet said to watch for further development and suspected it was an ulcer. About a month later, her spot developed into a cataract. She had a litter of two - and both kits appear to have a strip of cloudiness over the outer surface of their eyes. We've been treating them, and her mother has a litter, in which one kit has developed one cloudy eye (this is a patch over the pupil). Is it safe to say this is genetic? Have you ever heard of any genetic eye conditions with the above characteristics?

April 30, 2018

Winnie's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

I am not aware of a genetic or hereditary issue in rabbits leading to cloudy eyes or cataracts but it is noted in other species; other causes for cloudy eyes may be due to environmental factors, inappropriate diet (dietary deficiency) or other factors. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

April 30, 2018

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JAsper

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Dwarf Lop

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8 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Discharge
Fur Loss
Cataract

Hi, My 8yr old dwarf lop Jasper has cataracts in both eyes (diagnosed by specialist) and has been having artificial tears 3+ times a day for the past 3 months. One of his eyes is barely cloudy, however the other is completely opaque now. They used to be bloodshot until I was prescribed the artificial tears for him following a series of minor discharge issues. Since then apart from the colour and loss of vision he's been fine. Today I was giving him his eye drops and his worst eye has a lot of milky, sticky discharge. The other had a tiny amount. I've cleaned the eyes, I don't see any bulging but his worse eye does have enlarged veins around the iris. Lastly this may be unrelated, but last week he had a large amount of fur loss, possibly due to the season as it was unusually warm in the house then, I've given him ivermectin in case of house mites since then, but unsure if possible symptom. I need to know how urgent or not urgent a trip to the vets is. My usual vet is not in the practice until friday and it will cost a lot to see somebody else who may not even be trained in rabbits. Ideally I'd love to know what possible conditions I could be looking at and the expected outcome from them

April 8, 2018

JAsper's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

I do understand your reluctance to see a veterinarian that isn't used to looking at rabbits. I'm concerned for a deeper infection, uveitis, or glaucoma. If there were any way to call the veterinarian who saw him and describe the eye, that might be a good idea before Friday. Otherwise, you can keep it clean, continue with his eye medications, and monitor for the eye worsening. If those vessels seem to be getting larger, it might be a good idea to at least have him seen by a veterinarian to make sure that he isn't having an emergent problem before your veteirnarian is back on Friday.

April 8, 2018

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Peanut

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Miniature Lop

dog-age-icon

12 Months

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Whites Of Eyes Yellowish
White Eye Cloudy Eye

Hi Peanut is my mini lop bunny he is 12 months old. One off his eyes have a white pupil and the other eye is now cloudy. I took him to the vet and he got eye drops. He has had two courses off cream and not sure what else to do. Last week he got his teeth out and this is when I noticed the other eye going cloudy. What other options can I do I feel it costing a lot with very little results. Thank you for any advice.

March 7, 2018

Peanut's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. I wish that I could offer advice, but without seeing Peanut, I am not sure what might be going on with his eyes. Your veterinarian has seen him very recently, and may be able to help with what is going on with a phone call - if they do want to see him for a recheck, they may be able to assess how he has responded to the drops, and use that as a clue to what is happening. I hope that he is okay.

March 7, 2018

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Winston & Popcorn

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Netherland Dwarf

dog-age-icon

6 Weeks

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Watery Eyes
Slow Moving
Wet Eyes

Hi, My two 6 week old Netherland Dwarves appear to have cloudy eye. The buck, Popcorn, is a BEW and the doe, Winston (we named her before finding out her gender ;) a blue point split. They opened their eyes extremely early - at about 3-5 days old. I am wondering if this was maybe the problem.As bacteria could have caused it or the irritation of the fur and straw in the nest rubbing on their eyes. I noticed very early on that their eyes weren't shiny and glossy as they normally should be. So when they fully opened them I examined Winston and saw that she had a cloudy film over them, then way behind that film was the eye, like they actual eye was sunk far, far back into the socket. Popcorn didn't have this but her actual eyes are very small, with a large circle of white around them, it looks like she is scared but they are always like it even if she is completely calm and relaxed?! However they did also have unusually long fur, longer than any I have seen on Netherland Dwarves of this age. Their fur was particularly long on their faces and I often found it in spikes (due to all their tears and this white gunk around their eyes) poking into their eyes. First I tried softening the fur and gunge with an ear stick and warm water. Unfortunately this didn't seem to do much and each morning it was just as bad as the previous day. The fur was growing longer so I decided to gently trim around both of their eyes. This had a positive impact for about 2-3 weeks until the fur started growing again. However I didn't caut it again because it was not noticeably irritating their eyes. Then suddenly Winston's eyes got really bad, the film was thickening and there were streaks of blood in it and a line of black near her tear ducts. One side was noticeably worse than the other and she seems very blind - often falling off low tables and is not very active. When she is let out side she just sits there whereas Popcorn sniffs round and hops. I really don't know what to do since I breed and sell rabbits, but there is no way on earth I could sell these to anyone and I am doubting whether I could breed them in this condition. As long as they are in no pain I don't mind, but apparently cataracts are really painful for rabbits.

dog-name-icon

Tomali

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blue otter netherland dwarf

dog-age-icon

3 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Liquid Discharge

I have a blue otter Netherland dwarf rabbit, three years old. I've started noticing my rabbit have a white glob in both of her eyes, she is kept in our basement (i'm against it) and i'm afraid that it being dark could have caused this. I am also unsure if it is a cataract, the only way i can describe it is, a white glob in her pupil and its quite gooey (we started to notice so i had used a wet cloth to wipe her eye and i noticed afterwards it was like a sticky white paste) i also noticed redness around the eye and a liquid discharge in the corner or her eyes. I keep whipping it (the corner of her eye) and it seems it hardens there. I can easily wipe the glob out of her eye but the next day its back. any advice or more info???

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Oak Lee

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Holland Lop

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1 Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Cataract
Cloudy
Large

I have a holland lop that is a little over a year old, who has a very large cataract in the right eye and one forming in the left. I had just noticed them today and am wondering what the most likely cause is for the cataract. My rabbit lives in a hutch outside, from being out there could bacteria form in the hutch? What exactly should I do at his age?

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Lucy

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English Lop

dog-age-icon

7 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

I have a seven-year-old English lop rabbit who has a cloudy left eye. Almost the entire Eye is opage . Otherwise she is very happy eating fine drinking her water. My daughter is very upset. I want to know because of her age if we should bring her to the vet. She’s never been to a veterinarian and she’s very skittish. Please some advice

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Fudge

dog-breed-icon

Netherland Dwarf

dog-age-icon

10 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Opaque Eye

My bunny is really old. Probably 10 years old. His one eye has recently become cloudy and opaque the other seems ok at the moment. He is a very nervous bunny and due to his age would not fare well at the vets I don’t think. Apart from his one eye he is fine. Eating and drinking and carrying on as usual. Would you recommend stressing him unduly due to his condition or leaving well alone?

Cloudy Eye Average Cost

From 515 quotes ranging from $100 - $300

Average Cost

$200