Eye inflammation, known as uveitis, typically affects the front of the eye in rabbits. It can occur at any age and is often caused by bacteria. Other causes include injury that leads to ulceration of the cornea, environmental irritants and autoimmune conditions, which can cause your rabbit's immune system to attack any part of their body and trigger inflammation. Here's an overview of the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment approach for eye inflammation in rabbits:
In addition to appearing red and swollen, the affected eye can become sensitive to light and pink bumps can sometimes develop on the iris. The pupil can also constrict and your rabbit will experience pain and discomfort. Rabbits experiencing pain tend to become withdrawn and may spend a lot of their time hiding in their hutch. They will also show an unwillingness to be handled and may go off their food.
Diagnosis And Treatment Approach
A vet will examine your rabbit's eyes and carry out a few tests to ensure there's nothing more serious causing your rabbit's symptoms, such as a build-up of pressure from a tumour. They will use tonometry, which measures pressure in your rabbit's eyes by blowing puffs of air directly into each eye. Additionally, a dye may be used to allow the vet to get a better look at all the parts of your rabbit's eyes. The dye highlights blood vessels, and allows clearer photographs to be taken using a medical imaging technique known as angiography. A sample of the cells around the eye will be collected and analysed for the presence of bacteria, which will help the vet prescribe effective medication.
Once diagnosed, the vet will outline a treatment plan. Unless your rabbit's symptoms are severe, they can be treated at home, and a short course of anti-inflammatories will be prescribed to bring down the swelling. The cause of the inflammation will then be treated with antibiotics and eye drops to cleanse your rabbit's eyes. If your rabbit has an autoimmune condition, a long course of anti-inflammatories may be necessary, and your vet may prescribe an immunosuppressant to prevent their immune system continuing to attack their body. In cases of severe bacterial infection, it may be necessary for your rabbit's lens to be surgically removed due to scarring and irreversible damage. This is not as bad as it sounds, as a rabbit's lens can regenerate spontaneously.
If your rabbit has any of the symptoms listed above, or if you have any concerns about their eye health, schedule an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.