At UC San Diego, a group of experts came together to try and preserve the eyesight of 3-year-old gorilla who lives at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
A UCSD medical team assisted in surgery to remove a worsening cataract that had been caused by trauma.
Leslie was the patient's name, and her caretakers had noticed that her left eye was becoming cloudier.
From the UCSD announcement:
Animal care specialists at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park were concerned when they noticed cloudiness in the left eye of Leslie, a 3-year-old female western lowland gorilla. Closer inspection confirmed the lens had changed and the left eye was shifting haphazardly, prompting Leslie to favor use of her right eye.
Given Leslie’s young age and developmental stage, Safari Park veterinarians organized a team of internal and external experts, including ophthalmologists and anesthesiologists at UC San Diego Health, to perform the Park’s first-ever cataract surgery on a gorilla.
The operation took place at the Paul Harter Veterinary Medical Center at the San Diego Zoo.
Cataract surgeon Chris Heichel led the team of surgeons. He said he has performed thousands of operations, but that this was his first on a gorilla.
“Fortunately, the similarities between the anatomy of human and gorilla eyes are great enough to allow us to safely navigate the procedure without complication,” Heichel said in a press release from the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
“The remainder of the eye appeared to be in excellent health, indicating exceptional vision potential for the rest of Leslie’s life.”
The animal care specialists say that while cataracts can occur with age, Leslie's probably happened either from a fall while she was learning to climb, or from “an overly rambunctious play sessions with other young gorillas in her troop,” the park told the Associated Press.
UC San Diego Health Helps San Diego Zoo Safari Park Save 3-year-old Gorilla’s Eyesight [health.ucsd.edu]
[images = screengrabs from UCSD video]