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Rabbits/URGENT possible enucleation this wednesday


Hi Dr Krempels,

I am fostering a very precious little 1.25yo buns called Bowie.
She has an eye that is in very bad shape... basically blind although I think she may still sees light thru it.
Her previous owner noticed a scratch on her eye when she was just a baby, it wasn't taken care of, so proceeded to an inflamed eye and basically made mince meat of the contents of the eye ball (E cunniculi may have contributed here).

Regardless something needs to be done to sort the eye out. My dilemma is this: most vets seem to opt for enucleation which feels so drastic... removal of the eye ball, muscles, and sewing the lids shut to each other. The other choice is Intrasclerial Prosthesis which is making a small incision on the eye ball, removing the inner contents and inserting a prosthetic (plastic) ball. IP is obviously far less invasive although both procedures carry a high risk of haemorrhage.

This is my problem: I live in NYC and have taken buns to four vets (all buns specialists) and a veterinary opthomologist (does cats, dogs and exotics). Only the VetOptho performs the IP procedure. All four exotics generalists do enucleation and have no experience with the IP procedure. The foster organisations in surrounding area who have a lot of experience with all these vets are concerned that the Vet Otho mainly has experience performing this procedure on cats and dogs> They've only heard of one instance of a bunny and there were complications afterwards.

Do you have any experience or information with the Instrascleral Prosthesis procedure on rabbits? Do you know any vets or opthos on the East Coast who successfully perform this procedure on rabbits?

Have you had experience with enucleation and any advice to offer?

I would love for Bowie to have as minimally invasive a procedure as possible but obviously not if the risks are too high.

Do you have experience with non-operative, longterm management of luxated retinas, glaucoma etc ?

Both procedures are risky, so I am getting very nervous about it all, and want to be rock solid I am making the right decisions for her.

Any advice or even anecdotes are welcome!

Thats in advance for your time and thoughts here!

Kate (Bowie the sweetest cuddle puff at 1.25years)

Dear Kate,

If the eye is causing pain, or is infected, I would opt for the enucleation.  There is little or no reason to insert a prosthesis, except for cosmetic reasons, and if this procedure is not being performed on rabbits, then I would not want my bunny to be the pioneer.

If the eye is really a mess, and four different bun vets have recommended enucleation as the most humane option, I would seriously consider that, and do not consider the IP procedure.

I have had many one-eyed rabbits, and they do just fine.

I hope this helps.



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Dana Krempels, Ph.D.


I've lived with companion rabbits for more than 35 years, and consider them members of my family. I can answer any questions about the biology and health of rabbits, from the commonplace to the unusual. But please note:

RULE #1:

Find a rabbit vet at for immediate help, and don't risk your bunny's life by spending time asking questions online! If you can't get in touch with your vet, read these Emergency Sick Bunny Instructions.

If you have found a wild baby rabbit, please read these EMERGENCY INSTRUCTIONS FOR WILD BABY RABBITS and then use this link to FIND A LOCAL WILDLIFE REHABILITATOR who can give you the right advice.

RULE #2:
Help me help you! Please make your subject line informative if you have an urgent question. then LET ME KNOW IN THE SUBJECT LINE so I can give your question highest priority over non-urgent questions. If you don't do this, then I can't guarantee timely assistance!

For all the best, most accurate rabbit health, care and behavior information, visit The House Rabbit Society.


I have been rescuing and rehabilitating domestic and wild rabbits for about 30 years. I have written articles for many rabbit rescue publications, as well as for the veterinary journal, Exotic DVM. I own EtherBun, the internet's largest listserve dedicated to health, care, and behavior of domestic rabbits.

Houserabbit Adoption, Rescue, and Education, Inc. (H.A.R.E., Inc.) president National House Rabbit Society (Board member)

Exotic DVM
Warren Peace (Journal of the House Rabbit Society of Miami)
Various newsletters of the House Rabbit Society, nationwide

Ph.D - Biology
B.S. - Biology
B.A. - English

Awards and Honors
Lightspan Academic Excellence Award for web site on rabbit health and biology

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