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- Author or Editor: Teresa L. Southard x
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CASE DESCRIPTION A 10-year-old sexually intact male client-owned Texas rat snake (Elaphe obsoleta lindheimeri) was referred for evaluation because of a 5-month history of progressive bilateral ocular opacities and abnormal behavior.
CLINICAL FINDINGS On ophthalmic examination, the snake had bilateral mature cataracts and uveal cysts. No additional ophthalmic or physical abnormalities were detected. Results of CBC, serum biochemical analysis, and ocular ultrasonography were unremarkable.
TREATMENT AND OUTCOME Bilateral spectaculotomy was performed, followed by bilateral phacoemulsification and uveal cyst aspiration, without complication. Histologic evaluation of the phacoemulsified lens material revealed only nonspecific findings associated with cataractogenesis. Vision was restored and the abnormal behaviors resolved after cataract surgery. Long-term follow-up examination performed 60 weeks after surgery revealed no additional ocular or physical abnormalities.
CLINICAL RELEVANCE The ocular anatomic and physiologic characteristics of snakes can pose intraoperative and postoperative challenges to phacoemulsification, but the outcome achieved for this surgical case suggested that successful cataract surgery is possible in these species. This case further demonstrated that cataracts may be associated with reversible behavioral abnormalities in captive snakes.