A tiny Labrador puppy with an eye condition so severe he was set to lose his sight has opened his eyes for the first time thanks to surgery at a Penrith vets.
Three-week-old Rufus was referred to Veterinary Vision with ulcers on both eyes caused by severe abnormalities with his eyelids.
He hadn’t responded to intensive medical management, so emergency surgery was the only option available to save his sight.
Chris Dixon, an accredited advanced practitioner in veterinary ophthalmology, and his nursing colleagues Bex Martin and Emma Sturch, carried out surgery on Rufus to remove a large abnormal growth of skin, called a dermoid, from the surface of both eyes.
They then reconstructed extensive congenital abnormalities of the lower eyelid, called a coloboma, before stitching them into place with very small dissolvable material.
There is an increased risk with general anaesthesia in very young puppies and the Veterinary Vision team had to work quickly to reduce his time in theatre – but Rufus bounced back quickly from the operation and can now hold his eyes open for the first time.
Chris said: “We routinely see puppies with eyelid problems, but rarely so severe at such a young age. Unfortunately, Rufus’s condition had deteriorated despite his dedicated owner placing drops day and night, and surgery became the only option to improve his comfort and save his sight.
“The surgery and anaesthesia had to be carefully planned in advance, and the success for Rufus is testament to the fantastic nursing team who cared for him throughout. It did help that he is very cute and loves cuddles!”
Explaining the condition Rufus was suffering from, Chris added: “A dermoid is abnormal tissue on the surface of the eye and hair growth from within the lesion can lead to ulceration of the ocular surface. A corneal ulcer is extremely painful and can lead to a loss of sight.”
“A coloboma is a failure of the normal tissue to form properly. If the defect occurs in the eyelid, it can result in entropion, the in-turning of the eyelid, which allows hair to come into contact with the cornea. This hair can cause mechanical abrasion and lead to a corneal ulcer.”
Rufus’s owner Evie Mountain, who is also a veterinary surgeon, said: “For me, the referral process was very smooth and simple. I’m fortunate to know Chris, as I’ve referred numerous horse cases to him over the last few years, and we spoke at length about Rufus’s condition and his current quality of life.
“Despite this surgery ideally being performed at 12 to 16 weeks old, we agreed that the severity of his defect had become a major welfare issue so Chris agreed to proceed with the operation.
“Prior to his surgery, I was uncertain whether Rufus would survive to adulthood. Surgery with Veterinary Vision gave Rufus a real chance at living a completely normal and happy life.
“Since his surgery he is so much happier, he has gained lots of weight and he is always playing with his brothers and sisters.”