Addy Undergoes Cataract Surgery

Addy Undergoes Cataract Surgery


So Addy stranded in California in June of 2013 and when she stranded she was massively malnourished. So she only weighed about 22 pounds when she was a year old when she should have been twice that big. At the time that she stranded they found she had a cataract in her eye and she was not able to see and so she was deemed non-releasable into the wild. She came to our zoo in 2014. At the time that we decided to bring her to the Zoo we committed to doing cataract surgery for her. There was a period of time that it took to get her trained to accept all the post-operative care for the eye drops and all the care that we need to do for Addy as she recovers from surgery. We flew in Dr. Carmen Colitz who has done cataract surgery for us before and she also brought two people to manage Addy’s anesthesia, Dr. Mike Walsh and Dr. Fernando Garcia. Sea lion anesthesia is very tricky so we wanted to make sure we had experts and Dr. Colitz is world renowned for her work in cataract surgery, not only in sea lions and seals but also dolphin species. Years ago we found with the pinnipeds, which includes sea lions and seals, that they can develop cataracts just like people can. Sometimes from some of the same causes. So, because they’re living so long in zoos and aquariums you’ll see a lot of them get to where they start losing their sight to the point where it can become difficult for them. Both sea lions in the wild and in human care do develop cataracts. The number one, two, three, and four reasons are exposure to sun, natural aging, any history of any eye disease in the past, or history of trauma. We know that cataracts that are in an eye for a long time can cause a lot of damage so based on the testing pre-operatively we had good evidence that she would be able to see again. We decided to proceed with the cataract surgery. We got the lens out nicely, rinsed it out really well. We got the lining of the cataract, like the coating of the M&M, the candy coating, if you will, and then sutured it up. We also put in implants with cyclosporine, which is a drug that helps control keratopathy, which is a disease that all pinnipeds get in their corneas, so it helps manage that long term. She’s a little bit excitable. Just like people they have their own personalities so she was very aware of what was going on. A little slow in cooperating perhaps on the initial phase of the sedation, but for the most part, went well throughout the surgery and went well in the wake up. She’s bright and alert and now looking around. She seems like she can see just fine. She’s focusing on her trainers. She’s doing very well so I’m very happy the way things went today. For her recovery time, she’s going to be dry for two and a half to three weeks, because the incision has to heal. That’s the most important thing because we know if we put them back into the water too soon the pool water is not a good thing to have inside your eye. So we want to make sure that doesn’t happen. So once she’s back into the main pool she’ll still have drops, but she should be back to her normal lifestyle. They’re able to provide her with a great home here, and part of that providing good normal healthcare from the veterinary staff, the animal care staff, and everyone here, is giving them everything they need to have a long and healthy life. So what we look at in zoos and aquariums is to be able to give them the same kind of healthcare you would give a person. Whether it’s the eyes, their heart, or anything else, they’re here to be able to be taken care of to the highest capability that we have.

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