Why Is My Rat’s Eye Turning White? Glaucoma, Infection, Cataracts?

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Why Is My Rat’s Eye Turning White? Glaucoma, Infection, Cataracts?

Rats can develop white eyes, giving the impression that the rat has become blind in one eye. Usually, a blind eye will be completely and totally bluish white, as if it were cloudy. However, white spots can occur as well. The severity of the condition depends upon what is causing the eye to become white.


Blindness In One Eye

mouse-170942_1920As previously stated, a blind eye tends to be completely blue-white. If the eye looks this way, test the rats vision in that eye. If the rat has minimal or no reaction to movement on the blind eye’s side of the body, more than likely he or she has suffered from total vision loss. As long as the eye is not infected and is not causing the rat pain, he or she can live out a full, healthy life. Ulcerated or damaged eyes may need to be removed, though.

Corneal Abrasion

Maple- Niki G
Maple underwent surgery for tumor removal, and suffered from a common consequence of surgery; the eye dried out, causing corneal damage. This should turn around with time, hopefully restoring Maple’s eyesight. Courtesy of Niki G.

A corneal abrasion occurs when the outer fifth layer of the eye, the cornea, becomes damaged. Commonly, this is caused by fighting or scratching; it is usually the result of an accident. The eye will appear damaged and white spots might develop on the eye. The rat will squint, with excessive porphyrin production and obvious discomfort. The rat will need veterinary care to ensure the eye does not become infected; otherwise the rat could lose its vision. Most corneal abrasions will not result in the loss of an eye if taken care of properly.

Infection

An infected eye can become dangerous quickly. As the eye weeps, swells, and becomes damaged from bacterial growth, the rat’s entire immune system could fall. This could result in a rat with a full body infection. The first sign of an infected eye should be addressed with rinsing the eye with a proper preservative free tear solution and a cold compress; the rat should then see a vet to get antibiotics.

Cataracts

east tn give a heart rat rescue 2
This hairless lady experienced glaucoma, numerous tumors across the body, and potentially tumors forming within the skull cavity. Courtesy of Brittany S, with East TN Give a Heart Rat Rescue.

As the lens of an eye degenerates, the rat could suffer from serious cataracts. Genetic disorders, infections, injuries, diseases, and much more can be responsible for cataract development in rats. Cataracts occur in the lens of the eye, where it will become discolored and cloudy. Rats can adapt fairly well, and should be provided with a safe environment to live in as well as a nutritionally complete diet. Vet visits can help to make the animal more comfortable and rule out any other devastating eye health problems, but rats with cataracts are capable of living happily.

Glaucoma

east tn give a heart rat rescue
Here, you can see the bulging of the affected eye, and how the glaucoma causes increased pressure within the eye. The white eventually took over, resulting in a fully blinded eye. This is a common occurrence with advanced glaucoma in rats. Courtesy of Brittany S, with East TN Give a Heart Rat Rescue.

Glaucoma is a very serious eye condition that can affect rats; it raises the intraocular pressure of the eye. Rats who are diagnosed must be treated with Trithalmic/ Cortisone Ophthalmic Ointment and Pilocarpine Ophthalmic Solution 1% in order to keep the rat in a mostly healthy state. Untreated, the disease can be very dangerous. Symptoms of Glaucoma include: excessive blinking and discomfort, cloudy eyes, frequent tearing, swelling or bulging eye, and secondary infections. If it is left neglected for too long, the rat may require eye removal or euthanasia. They can experience immense pain from the increased pressure on their eyes.

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