Guinea Pigs/eye

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Question
Hi Pat,

Our oldest guniea pig has a bulge in the membrane of her lower eyelid; it could be pea-eye/fatty-eye, but I'm not sure. It's whitish-pink, and basically looks like her eyelid's drooping, and bulging slightly underneath, and flipping outward.

She's about four years old, and lives with one other female guinea pig.
We only noticed that something was wrong with her eye about a month ago, and it certainly wasn't there much for longer than that.

IS this something I ought to take her to the vet for? I have taken pictures, but I don't know how to send them here.

Thanks so much.

Jill

Answer
Good news!  This is nothing the vet can do, unless you want to pay for an expensive cosmetic surgery to fix what is commonly known as Pea Eye aka Fatty Eye.  The conjunctival membranes are simply showing because the lid has lost its elasticity.  Typically this presents itself by a year old, sometimes a bit later. But doesn't often happen at age 4.

This condition is harmless, painless and nothing more than cosmetic. It's rarely seen in pigs with a longer nose. It's all too common in those cute little bunny faces that we've bred for because they're considered more attractive than the long nose.

Judges always gravitate to the round nose pigs. And for that reason we keep replicating that face in our breeding programs.  But Mother Nature did not intend guinea pigs to have that kind of look. And anytime we start trying to 'improve' what nature gave us, we end up with problems. In this case genetic problems.

In some animals it's considered desirable, like Bassett Hounds. In your Doberman has it he is disqualified in the show arena. If a guinea pig has it on the show table, they too are disqualified.  

For those who don't show up for a year or two they've most probably been bred and this is a trait that is past on in the genes.  For that reason a pig with pea eye should not be bred.  Unfortunately there are breeders who are willing to take the risk for the sake of bringing home a few trophies and ribbons before it manifests itself. But that defeats the purpose of responsible breeding. A good breeder's goal should be to improve the line, not contaminate it.

So rest easy, this is not something that needs fixing. She's fine and will continue to be. She just has a droopy eyelid.  

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Pat VanAllen

Expertise

As is sometimes the case, people in urgent need of information have a higher degree of expectation than those of us as experts are able to give. The experts on this site do their best to give the most accurate and responsible answers possible. We ask that you remember that it is not our intention nor place to criticize the professional advice given by your veterinarian, nor is it appropriate for us to comment on the correctness of a diagnosis made by a licensed physician. Our knowledge is experience based. Although many years of breeding and showing cavies gives me a wealth of experience it cannot change the fact that we as experts are not veterinarians and therefore may occasionally have to reject questions that appear to be asking us to criticize advice given by the licensed professional. Having raised and exhibited cavies for many years I have extensive experience in cavy care and husbandry. I currently have an active breeding program for pedigreed show animals but do not encourage backyard breeding for inexperienced owners. Although I don't encourage breeding for fun I'm always happy to answer any questions from an owner who is in sincere need of help. Pet owners wanting to breed should understand that even experienced breeders have litter losses. The mortality rate is high in cavies. The chance for losing both sow and pups is always present, even with experience. Although this is a site for experts to assist owners, there is no expert in any field who has all the answers. The wisest thing a good expert can know is their limitations. Not having an answer does not diminish one's ability or knowledge. It simply shows that we recognize our limitations and operate within them.

Experience

Raised and shown cavies for many years, having aquired my first cavies in the early 1970's as pets. My caviary currently handles 65 + animals in two different breeds and several varieties. Having been in the health care industry as a licensed nurse for 35 years I have hands on experience with care and needs in both humans and cavies. Member of American Rabbit Breeders Association and American Cavy Breeders Association.

Organizations
Awarded Lifetime Membership in of one of the oldest cavy clubs in the United States, on whose Board I served as Sec/Treas for six years and currently serving as President. Also editor/publisher of the club's quarterly newsletter. We are strong supporters of our youth exhibitors, most of whom are 4H members who are working on cavy projects. Through these projects they become good responsible citizens. We deal with all aspects of showing, breeding, caring for and sharing experiences in the fancy. The cavy fancy is not a new one but in some areas is still relatively unknown. Our goal is to inspire interest in high quality, responsible breeding to improve the species, not just the reproduction of guinea pigs. Our job is to educate owners to help them make the right decisions and choices in the care of their cavies.

Education/Credentials
Graduate in nursing. Certified in emergency medicine.

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