Vets operate on eye of the tiger cub
By LEIGH SPANN
News Channel 8
Published: October 28, 2009
Updated: 10/28/2009 05:12 pm
A fuzzy patient
The surgeons at Florida Veterinary Specialists deal with a wide assortment of animal maladies.
Today , it was the eye of the tiger.
Tiger Lily, a four-month-old Bengal tiger cub, needed eye surgery to remove a cataract.
“She has a hereditary cataract in one eye that has blocked her vision in that eye,” said Don Woodman of Animal Hospital of Northwood.
While there have been cases of cataract surgery in adult tigers, this is the first one documented in a tiger cub.
“We haven’t found any reports of this surgery in tiger cubs this age,” said Woodman. “So this is going to be a real good educational thing for us and for the veterinary world.”
Woodman says without the surgery, there is a chance that the cataract may have resolved away on its own. There are several problems with leaving it to that chance. The cataract may not resolve, causing diminished vision. If it did resolve, it may take a while and in that time cause inflammation inside the eye.
Plus, doing the surgery now will make it easier to handle her after the operation.
“She is a tiger after all,” said Woodman.
So Tiger Lily went under the knife held by Dr. Michele Stengard of Florida Veterinary Specialists. While it is not Stengard’s first animal cataract surgery, it is her first on a tiger.
“Her eye is much bigger than the dog’s eye, and trying to reach the areas that I needed to get to is a little more challenging,” Stengard said. “But we were able to complete the job and get everything out without any damage.”
During the surgery, Stengard inserted a large needle into the tiger’s eye. This needle vibrates ultrasonically and fragments the lens. When it becomes pulverized, the cataract can be sucked out of the eye.
Stengard says it is rewarding to complete these surgeries.
“It not only improves their quality of life, but the eye can actually be destroyed by an advancing cataract, so one goal is to restore vision, but the other goal is to prevent all the complications,” Stengard said.
Because of the ground-breaking status of this operation, Stengard plans to document every aspect of the surgery and publish it.
For Tiger Lily, life will now be clearer through the eye of this tiger.