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A Retrospective Study on Ocular Affections in Bovines.


The study report 52 bovines (3.80%) with ocular affections during the three years study period with affections viz. ocular dermoids, eyelid affections, conjunctival affections, corneal affections, eyeball affections, ocular tumors, traumatic eye injuries and their surgical management.

Keywords: Bovine; ocular affection; surgical management


Surgical management of ocular affections in bovines mainly depends on accurate diagnosis of nature and extent of the condition. Ocular diseases and injury remain a common occurrence in ruminants. In many instances, medical management is sufficient for resolution and amelioration of clinical signs, however in selected cases, surgical intervention too is required. Fortunately, field surgery remains a viable option for most bovine ocular diseases. Thorough physical examination, proper preparation of patient, appropriate pre-operative management and surgical technique will assure the best results possible (Mahamoud Al et al., 2015). The common ocular affections recorded in cattle and buffaloes are conjunctivitis, keratitis, sub-conjunctival abscess, prolapsed of nictitating glands, hyphema and cataract (Misk, 1993). The nictitating membrane of large animals is frequently affected by neoplasms, malformations, foreign bodies and inflammations (Hendrix, 2007). Youssef et al. (1993) recorded sub-conjunctival abscess and dermoids in ruminants, whereas granulomas and abnormal protrusion of nictitating membrane were recorded by Abd El-Aal et al. (1997). The present study was aimed at recording analysis of different types of ocular lesions in bovines, their treatment, peri-operative care and complications.

Materials and Methods


A total of 1368 bovines were presented during November' 2012-November' 2015. Out of which, 52 (3.8%) were found positive for ocular affections and formed material for study (Table 1). Among these 28 (53.8%) were white cattle and 24 (46.2%) buffaloes (Table 2). Congenital affections were ocular dermoids in 3.85% of animals and acquired affections in 96.15% (Table 3). The animals were of different age groups from 1 month to 8 years age and both sexes. The breeds affected were Holstein-Friesian and Jersey cross in cows and Graded Murrah and non descript in buffaloes.

Clinical Symptoms

The clinical symptoms varied according to affection but some common signs were reported in most of the affections viz. marked pain when the eye is exposed to direct sun light. The ocular lesions were very painful and disrupted grazing patterns causing poor performance and even weight loss. Bilateral lesions cause temporary blindness and affected animals tended to wander aimlessly. Tear staining of face, pus matting the lashes and hair of face, severe conjunctivitis, superficial and deep vascularization of cornea and corneal ulceration were the most common complications observed in delayed treated patients.


Xylazine premedication was used at the rate of 0.05mg/kg I.M. Ocular examination was facilitated by reducing upper eyelid movement by auriculo palpebral nerve block using 2% Lidocaine Hcl on the dorsal aspect of zygomatic arch. Surgical manipulation of eye was performed in conscious animals, under the effect of four point retrobulbar nerve block using 2% Lidocaine injected with 18 gauge, 9-cm long needle introduced through the skin on dorsal, lateral, ventral and medial aspects of eye at 12, 3, 6 and 9'clock positions, respectively (Ivany, 2004).

Ocular Examination

Occular dermoids (Fig.1) are congenital defects observed in two calves, one in Holstein-Friesian, calf and one in a Jersey calf. These were present at the palpebral conjunctiva of lower eye lid. Dermoids caused irritation to animal, lacrimation and conjunctivitis due to its location and long coarse hairs above the abnormal mass.

Blepharitis, lacerations of upper eye lid (Fig. 2) and lower eyelid (Fig.3) were the common eyelid affections presented. Cherry eye condition which is due to prolapse of nictitating gland was presented in a cow (Fig. 4). Growth of nictitating membrane was recorded in a bullock (Fig. 5).

There were two types of conjunctivitis, parenchymatous conjunctivitis i.e. chemosis (Fig. 6) and catarrhal conjunctivitis (Fig.7). The clinical symptoms of catarrhal conjunctivitis were photophobia, blepharospasm, profuse lacrimation which was watery in early stages and mucopurulent later. Mucous membrane was congested, swollen and reddish in color. Parenchymatous conjunctivitis was characterized by chemosis (extensive edematous condition of conjunctiva) and exhibited swollen palpebral conjunctiva protruded out from palpebral fissure with bulbar one extended over the cornea covering limbus. Sub-conjuctival abscess (Fig. 8) and Pterygium, growth of conjunctiva extending towards cornea (Fig. 9) were other conjuctival affections recorded in our study.

The corneal affections presented were keratitis, corneal ulcers (Fig. 10), foreign body in cornea (Fig. 15) and corneal opacity or cloudiness of cornea (Fig. 11). The symptoms of keratitis were expressed as photophobia, blepharospasm and loss of shiny appearance of cornea. Perforating corneal wound leads to evacuation of ocular contents followed by secondary infections. The end result was panophthalmitis which necessitated enucleation of eyeball.

Affections of anterior chamber were Hyphema (Fig. 12), Hypopyon (Fig. 13) and eye worm infections (Fig. 14). Hyphema had a history of trauma and photophobia. Hypopony had a whitish discolouration of cornea with accumulation of exudates in anterior chamber. Hyphema was charecterized by blood clot in anterior chamber of eye. Eye woms such as Setaria cervi were recognized on careful examination of eye. Foreign bodies in eye ball (Fig. 15) were carefully excised under retrobulbar nerve block.

Extensive eye injuries (Fig. 17) that occurred due to accidental trauma were presented with bloody discharges from injured eye. Solid masses such as tumors (Fig. 18) at medial or lateral canthus of eye were presented with sticky discharges. Histopathological examination was done for this exicised tumors.

Results and Discussion

In the present study, 2 calves (3.85%) showed congenital ocular affections such as ocular dermoids. Occular dermoid cysts, that are misplaced embryonic cutaneous tissue were excised surgically under auriculopalpebral nerve block. It was determined that ocular dermoids in Hereford cattle are a genetically transmitted defect, characteristic of autosomal recessive and polygenic inheritance that occur sporadically with no clear cut sex incidence (Backyoumbmand Leipold.,1984). Faulty differentiation of tissue during ocular development can produce dermoids characterized mass of normal skin in an abnormal location (Mosbath, 2008). The incidence of tumors and dermoid growths were more common in bovines and these tumor growths are most commonly seen at palpebral conjunctiva of lower eyelid (Tamilmahan et al., 2013).
Fig. 19: Percentage of ocular affections

occular Dermoid            3.85
eye lid affection;        19.23
corneal affections        26.92
eye ball affections       15.38
conjunctival affections   23.07
S.Q.C.C                    7.69
Traumatic injuries         3.85

Note: Table made from pie chart.

Eyelid affections were shown in 10 cases (19.23%) of all ocular affections. Blepharitis recorded in 6 (11.53%) animals responded well for systemic corticosteroids and antibiotics in addition to cold fomentations. Traumatic lacerations of upper eye lids and lower eyelids were recorded in 2 (3.84%) and 1 (1.92%) animals respectively. These lacerations were closed after trimming of pedicle, using a two layer technique with simple interrupted absorbable sutures with (2/0) catgut in eyelid stroma and silk in skin. All recorded cases were caused by mechanical objects as nails and bruised wires. Eyelid lacerations should be repaired promptly to prevent lid deformities, infections and exposure induced damage to cornea (Lassaline 2003). Growth of nictitating membrane (1.92%) recorded in a bullock was corrected with no effect on the animal health. Protrusion of nictitating membrane and cherry eye with bilateral prolapse and protrusion of third eyelid was recorded in one mixed breed cow (Mosbath., 2008). As It is important in tear production, it is necessary to save the nictitating gland, instead of removing (Chahory et al., 2004). Excision of nictitans should only occur, if damage to this structure is severe or if affected by neoplasm (Plummer, 2005).

Affections of conjunctiva were recorded in 12 animals i.e. 23.07% Conjunctivitis recorded in 8 animals (15.38%) was treated by irrigating the eye with 2% boric lotion and by topical application of eye drops such as Betnosol N (a). Catarral conjunctivitis recorded in 6 animals showed best results to systemic injection of NSAID such as Melonex and to anti histaminic drugs. Chemosis, edema of conjunctiva in 2 animals were treated by subconjuctival injections of Prednisolone along with Betnosol (a) eye drops. Subconjunctival abscess reported in 3 calves were treated by making a nick incision on abscess and draining of contents, regular dressing and installation of antibiotic drops such as Gentamiycin or Neomycin ointment. Warm compresses were helpful for relieving conjuctival swelling. After application of Neomycin ophthalmic ointment in the eye two times daily, the cavity showed development of healthy granulation tissue in 15 days without affect on eye lid margins. The growth of conjunctiva extending towards cornea, i.e. Pterygium in 1 animal was removed surgically after ligation without reoccurrence for a period

of 6 months.

Various degrees of corneal affections were recorded in 14 animals (26.92%). Keratitis exhibited in 5 cases and corneal opacity in 7 animals was treated with sub-conjuctival injections of combinations of Placentrix (b), Gentamicin and Prednisolone. A well defined corneal ulcer was found in 2 animals and was associated with corneal opacity and vascularization Corneal ulceration was subsided by using Placentrix (b), sub-conjuctival on alternate days for a period of one week. Lesions involving the full depth of cornea are complicated by collapse of anterior chamber and bleeding may occur due to deeper damage involving the iris (Mosbath, 2008). The main reason of corneal opacity in contrast to other eye disorders was mainly due to poor management of commonly occurring external trauma, parasites, violence and foreign bodies (Pratap et al., 2003).

Eye ball affections were seen in 10 cases (19.23%) of all ocular affections. Anterior chamber of eye affections such as hyphema and hypopyon were recorded in 2 and 3 animals respectively. Hypopyon treated with subconjuctival injections such as Gentamicin and Prednisolone and Hyphema, treated by application of Betnesol N (a) eye drops showed better results. Setaria crevi worms recorded in 2 animals were removed by making an incision on upper half of cornea close to and parallel to corneoscleral junction, near the outer canthus which facilitates the escape of worm along with aqueous humour. Larva laid by Infected mosquito migrates to anterior chamber and cause damage to the eye by its movement and serrated cuticle (Jaiswal et al., 2006). Foreign bodies in the anterior chamber of eye such as chaff particle, any dust particle in 4 animals,were removed under retrobulbar anaesthesia, which may result in corneal ulceration if not treated. Among the ocular affections, 4 animals (7.69%) of cases showed squamous cell carcinoma. The average age of cattle with ocular squamous cell carcinoma is 8 years and these tumors are less common in cattle less than 5 years (Bhume et al., 1992). It is suggested that melanin plays a photo-protective role in epidermal and mucosal surface. (Ortonne, 2002,). Irreparable traumatic eye injuries in 3.85% were approached by complete removal of eye in order to prevent post traumatic complications.

Enucleation of entire globe in cattle, buffaloes involves the removal of the eye with para orbital structures. This type of enucleation is typically referred to as extirpation or exenteration of eyeball and this technique would be associated with few post operative complications such as bleeding and infection. Microscopical appearance (well differentiated squamous cell carcinoma) is characterized by formation of keratin pearls that appears as red onion-like structures surrounded by inflammatory cells infiltration.The cell's nucleus appears as enlarged, hyperchromatic and contained of one or more nucleoli (Rahi Nahi, 2012). The neoplastic cells showed mitotic figures, some of these cells have nucleus with prominent nucleoli diseases. This picture is similar to different retrospective studies in dairy cattle (Gharagozlou et al., 2007), equine (Christiane et al., 2009) and dogs (Dreyfus, 2011), Greater exposure to sunlight in warm and dry areas is considered as a predisposing factor in initiation of tumors because of increased levels of actinic radiation with longest hours of sunlight per year (Sivaseelan, 2008).

Enucleation remains an inexpensive, safe and viable treatment option for many types of severe ocular pathology in cows and animal can be retained to original reproduction within few weeks, in addition to increase longevity of cows within the herd.

Phthisis bulbi (shrinking of globe) was the end result in few cases of perforating corneal wounds and a calf suffered from iris prolapse following severe pink eye. This may be due to evacuation of ocular contents following corneal perforation. Similar results were reported by Rebhun et al. (1995).


The study revealed the importance of diagnosis and seriousness of eye diseases in bovines. Among all affections, corneal affections showed highest incidence followed by conjuctival affections. This is attributed mainly due to poor managemental practices and lack of regular health and eye check ups. Hence regular ophthalmic examination and screening is essential as a part of health care in domestic and pet animals.


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G. Vani (1), N. Dhana Lakshmi (2), M. Saibaba (3), P. Veena (4) and Ch. Mallikarjuna Rao (5)

Department of Surgery and Radiology College of Veterinary Science Sri Venkateswara Veterinary University (SVVU) Tirupati - 517502 (Andhra Pradesh)

(1.) Assistant Professor and Corresponding author. E-mail:

(2.) Professor, Department of Teaching Veterinary Clinical Complex

(3.) Teaching Assistant

(4.) Associate Professor

(5.) Assistant Professor

(a) - Brand of GSK Pharma, Mumbai

(a) - Brand of Albert David Pharma, Mumbai
Table 1: Incidence of Ocular affections

Year        Bovine    Ocular       Percentage

2012-2013    425      16           3.76
2013 2014    446      18           4.03
2014-2015    497      18           3.62
Total       1368      52           3.80

Table 2: Distribution of Ocular affections in bovines

Animal    No. of animals   Percentage

Cattle     28               53.80
Buffalo    24               46.20
Total      52

Table 3: Occular Affections based on Etiology

Etiology     No. of animals   Percentage

Congenital     2                7.70
Acquired      50               92.30
Total         52

Table 4: Incidence of Ocular affections

Ocular affections         No.   Percentage

Ocular dermoids            2     3.85
Eye lid affections        10    19.23
Corneal affections        14    26.92
Eye ball affections        8    15.38
Conjuctival affections    12    23.07
Squamous cell carcinoma    4     7.69
Traumatic injuries         2     3.85
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Title Annotation:Clinical Article
Author:Vani, G.; Lakshmi, N. Dhana; Saibaba, M.; Veena, P.; Rao, Ch. Mallikarjuna
Publication:Intas Polivet
Article Type:Report
Date:Jul 1, 2016
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