Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Guinea Pig Has Cloudy or Milky Eye

Readers, I have to talk with you about a rather unpleasant topic today: eye injuries. This isn't something that I was dying to write about, but after my cage-mate Lola got one, I feel like it's something that guinea pigs and their humans should know about.

It all started a few days ago when one of the humans bent down to look at us, and noticed that Lola's eye didn't look right. It was a cloudy color, there was some discharge in the corner, and the fur all around the eye looked damp.

That doesn't look right...
After doing some research, we learned that abnormal eye discharge can mean lots of things (URI, injury, tooth problem, dehydration, etc.), but the presence of a single, cloudy eye suggested an injury. We didn't know for sure what she had, but Guinea Lynx recommends that if there's a possible eye injury, you need to see the vet as soon as possible to prevent possible eye loss. The humans made a next-day appointment immediately after reading that.

First an eye injury, and then she gets poked and prodded by the vet. Lola isn't having a great week.
The vet did a quick check-up to make sure she was okay otherwise, and then focused in on her eye. They applied a dye to make the surface of the eye more visible, and this made a large scratch visible. (How scary is that! It makes me want to hide from the world even more than I already do.)

So how did Lola get this scratch? It's tough to say, according to the vet. It's possible it was just a freak accident; guinea pigs have been known to scratch their eyes on hay, which is, of course, the bulk of our diet so you can't just get rid of it. But here are a few things you can do:
  • The first thing the vet recommended was a nail trim. Lola's nails were a little long, so it's possible she could have scratched her own eye while scratching at her face. Make sure you keep up with nail trims to prevent this.
  • We previously discussed the differences between first, second and third-cut hay. Since first-cut hay is rough and irregular, it may be more likely to result in an eye poke. Therefore, unless you have a strong preference for first-cut hay for some reason, you're probably better off sticking to second and third-cut hays to reduce this risk.
  • Monitor chew toys, especially those made of willow, for sharp points that can form from being chewed on. If you don't want to put in the time and effort to properly monitor willow chew toys, it might be best to avoid willow chew toys.
  • Another possible source of eye injuries is fighting. Despite their struggles for dominance in the past, Broccoli swears he had nothing to do with this, and I think I believe him. Make sure you properly introduce guinea pigs to each other to reduce the possibility of eye injuries from fighting.

Besides the nail trim to reduce the risk of scratching her own eyes, the vet also put Lola on the following medications:

  • Ofloxacin antibiotic eye drops in the injured eye, 6 times per day
  • Neomycin and Polymyxin B Sulfates and Bacitracin Zinc antibiotic ointment, also 6 times per day in the injured eye (10 minutes after using the Ofloxacin--putting in the ointment before the eye drops would prevent the eye drops from working)
  • Meloxicam (a pain killer similar to ibuprofen in humans), once per day orally

So that's a total of 13 doses of medicine per day! The humans are finding out that we're not crazy about having gunk put in our eyes, so this isn't a pleasant situation for anyone. However, it has to be done. The vet said that it's possible that Lola could lose her eye if it gets infected and doesn't heal properly, so the humans are doing everything they can to prevent this. Everyone keep your front toes (AKA fingers for you humans) crossed for Lola's speedy recovery!


  1. Poor Lola!! We hope her eye heals quickly and easily!

    (An aside from the human: I've always wondered how pigs manage to NOT scratch or poke their eyes on hay. Plus, sometimes when having a cuddle we accidentally touch their eyes, and it never seems to bother them at all! Maybe piggie eyes are less sensitive than human eyes? I know when I accidentally touch my own eye, it's thoroughly unpleasant!)

  2. We have an update--Lola saw the vet again the other day, and they said that her eye is looking much better than when we first brought her in. They said the scratch looked about 80% healed. They instructed the humans to start giving her the eye drops and ointment only 3 times per day from this point forward.

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  4. I dont know if it's too late to be commenting on here, but one of my guinea pigs suffered and eye injury (a scratch or something) and the vet gave me eye drops to give to him twice a day for 10 days. I followed that, gave him his eye drops as I was told to and now his eye is healed, no scratch, no blood, no discharge, but it's still cloudy. He is still tilted on that side like he can't see. I'm afraid he is blind in one eye and maybe the injury was too much for him? Should I continue giving him his eye drops even though he has finished his treatment a few days ago or should I go see the vet again for further advice?

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  6. Extremely serious eye injury that healed completely...