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Distribution and outcome of ocular lesions in snakes examined at a veterinary teaching hospital: 67 cases (1985–2010)

Jennifer C. Hausmann DVM1, Steven R. Hollingsworth DVM, DACVO2, Michelle G. Hawkins VMD, DABVP3, Philip H. Kass DVM, PhD, DACVPM4, and David J. Maggs BVSc, DACVO5
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  • 1 William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California-Davis, Davis, CA 95616.
  • | 2 Departments of Surgical and Radiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California-Davis, Davis, CA 95616.
  • | 3 Medicine and Epidemiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California-Davis, Davis, CA 95616.
  • | 4 Population Health and Reproduction, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California-Davis, Davis, CA 95616.
  • | 5 Departments of Surgical and Radiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California-Davis, Davis, CA 95616.

Abstract

Objective—To determine the distribution and clinical outcome of ocular lesions in snakes.

Design—Retrospective case series.

Animals—67 snakes with ocular lesions.

Procedures—Signalment, lesion duration, diagnosis, treatment, and clinical outcome were recorded for all snakes with ocular lesions that were examined at a veterinary teaching hospital from 1985 to 2010.

Results—71 ocular lesions were detected in 67 of 508 (13%) snakes examined. Affected snakes were of the families Boidae, Pythonidae, Colubridae, and Viperidae. The distribution of ocular lesions did not vary by taxonomic family, age, or sex; however, snakes from the genus Epicrates with ocular lesions were overrepresented in the population. The most commonly diagnosed ocular lesions were retained spectacle (n = 41), pseudobuphthalmos or subspectacular abscess (13), trauma (8), and cataracts (4). Pseudobuphthalmos or subspectacular abscess developed more frequently in Colubridae than in non-Colubridae snakes. Of the 16 snakes with retained spectacles for which data were available, the lesion recurred once in 4 snakes and multiple times in 5 snakes.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results indicated that retained spectacle was the most common ocular lesion diagnosed in snakes. Compared with other snakes with ocular lesions, snakes of the genus Epicrates had a higher than expected frequency of ocular lesions in general and snakes of the family Colubridae had a higher than expected frequency of pseudobuphthalmos or subspectacular abscess.

Abstract

Objective—To determine the distribution and clinical outcome of ocular lesions in snakes.

Design—Retrospective case series.

Animals—67 snakes with ocular lesions.

Procedures—Signalment, lesion duration, diagnosis, treatment, and clinical outcome were recorded for all snakes with ocular lesions that were examined at a veterinary teaching hospital from 1985 to 2010.

Results—71 ocular lesions were detected in 67 of 508 (13%) snakes examined. Affected snakes were of the families Boidae, Pythonidae, Colubridae, and Viperidae. The distribution of ocular lesions did not vary by taxonomic family, age, or sex; however, snakes from the genus Epicrates with ocular lesions were overrepresented in the population. The most commonly diagnosed ocular lesions were retained spectacle (n = 41), pseudobuphthalmos or subspectacular abscess (13), trauma (8), and cataracts (4). Pseudobuphthalmos or subspectacular abscess developed more frequently in Colubridae than in non-Colubridae snakes. Of the 16 snakes with retained spectacles for which data were available, the lesion recurred once in 4 snakes and multiple times in 5 snakes.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results indicated that retained spectacle was the most common ocular lesion diagnosed in snakes. Compared with other snakes with ocular lesions, snakes of the genus Epicrates had a higher than expected frequency of ocular lesions in general and snakes of the family Colubridae had a higher than expected frequency of pseudobuphthalmos or subspectacular abscess.

Contributor Notes

Dr. Hausmann's present address is Department of Surgical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706.

Presented as an oral presentation at the Annual Conference of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists, Hilton Head, SC, October 2011, and the Annual Conference of the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians, Oakland, Calif, October 2012.

Address correspondence to Dr. Hausmann (Jennifer.Hausmann@gmail.com).