Boss Hog, a 29 year old male African penguin, developed bilateral cataracts in his old age. There was significant vision impairment: he was noted to have difficulty getting around the exhibit and he was reluctant to come out of his box or to be very active.
“Boss” was not seeing due to mature, or complete cataracts in both eyes. His keepers reported that he was not interacting with the other penguins and having problems with finding food. Dr. Anne Weigt from Animal Eye Care Associates examined Boss to determine if he would be a candidate for surgery.
Upon initial ophthalmic examination, Boss’s light reflexes were excellent and while he had mild inflammation associated with the cataracts, he was determined to be a candidate for cataract removal. The first cataract was removed from the right eye in February of 2013. Electrical testing of Boss’s retinas and ocular ultrasound indicated that Boss’s retinal function was normal and that they were anatomically in the correct position. Boss did very well after the surgery and the keepers reported that his personality changed for the better.
Dr. Weigt examined Boss several times in the months after the initial surgery. The inflammation associated with the surgery was minimal but it was monitored carefully in the weeks after the surgery. Boss became more active and engaged in his surroundings after the surgery. The zoo staff diligently administered postoperative medication.
Despite the successful surgery on his right eye, Boss was still blind in the left eye. That cataract was removed in November of 2014. This surgery also went very well. Boss’s mate missed him–spending the day vocalizing and calling for him. She was happy to see him and he was finally able to see her with both eyes. Boss is now fully visual in time for breeding season. Dr. Weigt reports.” I couldn’t be happier with the outcome of Boss’s surgery. It is so rewarding to see the personality change in Boss, knowing that return of vision has had such a positive impact on his quality of life.”