Rabbits are prone to bouts of red eye, which causes irritation and swelling around one or both eyes. The condition is often a symptom of an underlying health problem, so you should have your rabbit examined by a vet as soon as you notice red patches around the eyeball. Here's what you need to know about red eye in rabbits:
Symptoms And Causes
In addition to swelling and irritation, your rabbit may experience hair loss around the affected eye, a clear or creamy discharge from the eye, lethargy, abnormal tissue growth around the eye and impaired vision, which may present as clumsiness.
Red eye can be caused by a bacterial infection, such as rabbit syphilis. Conjunctivitis is also a common cause when viral irritants are present or when your rabbit develops environmental allergies. A respiratory tract infection can also cause the condition when the sinus cavities become infected, allowing bacteria to reach your rabbit's eye from their sinus cavities. When this is an underlying factor, your rabbit will likely have discharge from their nose. Eye inflammation can also occur when your rabbit develops glaucoma or has dental disease, which can lead to a tear duct becoming blocked.
Diagnosis And Treatment
Your vet will examine your rabbit's eyes and take skin cell samples and cultures of any discharge to identify specific strains of bacteria or fungus in their eyes. They will ask about your rabbit's living conditions to check whether they are exposed to common allergens and irritants, such as pesticides.
Glaucoma can be ruled out with tonometry. This diagnostic procedure is painless and involves blowing puffs of air into your rabbit's eyes to measure eye pressure. A build-up of pressure in the eyes can cause inflammation and is an early sign of glaucoma. They may also administer a fluorescein stain directly into your rabbit's eyes, which will allow them to see the condition of the blood vessels more clearly.
Once your vet has identified the cause of your rabbit's red eye, they will discuss a treatment plan with you. Treatment may include oral anti-inflammatories and topical steroids to bring the inflammation down, and glaucoma can be managed using drugs to reduce pressure in the eyes. Antibiotics will be required to treat a bacterial infection, but if the infection has damaged the eye lens and impaired your rabbit's vision, your vet may recommend the lens is surgically removed. Your rabbit's lens will regenerate quite quickly, replacing the damaged lens with a healthy lens.
If you're concerned about the health of your rabbit's eyes, book an appointment with your vet as soon as you can to prevent unnecessary discomfort.