How to Tell if Your Rabbit is Blind?

It’s quite common for rabbits to lose their eyesight as they age or if they have a serious infection, resulting in blindness. The positive news is that blind rabbits can still work their way around with the help of their sense of smell, touch of the whiskers, and sense of hearing.

There have been numerous cases where rabbits have been partially or fully blind and were able to live for so many years comfortably.

Blind rabbits usually explore cautiously and carefully. Even if they are cautious, they are prone to injuries by bumping into objects in their path. Other signs of blindness include cloudy eyes and getting startled by normal sounds.

So, let’s dig deeper into the different eye problems that rabbits can suffer from, along with the signs that tell your rabbit’s eyes are failing and what to do about it.

How to Tell if Your Rabbit is Blind?

Eye Problems that Rabbits Can Suffer From

Rabbits don’t get blind all of a sudden. The process is quite slow until they cannot see anymore, so you might not be able to see these behavioral changes instantly as they develop slowly with time leading to complete blindness.

You must consult a veterinarian immediately if you have doubts about your rabbit’s blindness issues. You can also make some changes at home so that your rabbit stays safe.

There are several different eye problems that rabbits can suffer from. The most common ones include;

1. Conjunctivitis

This is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the clear membrane covering the eye’s white part. If your rabbit suffers from this problem, her eyes will appear pink and inflamed. Because of this reason, the disease is also called “pink eye.” Conjunctivitis is usually caused by bacteria or viruses and can be quite contagious.

2. Glaucoma

In this condition, the pressure inside the eye becomes too high. It is known as elevated intraocular pressure. However, there are other signs that indicate your rabbit might be suffering from an onset of glaucoma. These include corneal edema and progressive buphthalmia. If left untreated, glaucoma can lead to blindness.

3. Cataracts

This is a condition in which the eye’s lens becomes cloudy. Cataracts can cause vision to become blurred or even lost altogether in rabbits. This condition is usually transmitted from the mother to her baby while the baby is still in the womb. If you notice cloudy eyes in your bunny, you should get her checked by a vet to rule out the possibility of cataracts.  

4. Retinal Detachment

This is a condition in which the retina becomes detached from the back of the eye. If left untreated, retinal detachment can lead to blindness. However, it’s a serious problem and may require surgery to be corrected. Even after surgery, there is no guarantee that a rabbit’s vision will fully return.

Rabbits are very good at hiding any signs of illness, so many eye problems will go unnoticed until they are quite advanced. When a problem is noticed, it is often too late to treat it successfully. So, you should look for signs and symptoms of these problems and get them treated early on.

Signs that Your Rabbit’s Eyes Are Failing

Sometimes there will be clear signs related to your rabbit’s eyes that would help you determine if your pet is going through vision issues. Other times you can tell by observing their behavior and reaction to the environment surrounding them.

It is always best to consult a vet to get a physical eye exam to assist you in assessing your pet’s overall eye health condition. However, before you visit the vet, you can check a few things yourself.  

First, you’ll want to see if your rabbit’s eyes are cloudy or if there is any discharge. Second, you’ll want to see if your rabbit has trouble finding food or water. Finally, you’ll want to see if your rabbit bumps into things or seems disoriented.

Let’s look at these signs one by one.

Cloudy Eyes

One of the most common reasons for having vision disability in rabbits is cataracts. This happens when a cloudy layer forms on the lens of the rabbit’s eye. This could either occur in one or both eyes at the same time. When you look into your pet’s eye, there will be a visible white fog-like layer.

During the early stages, cataracts would just cause partial blindness. The vision of the rabbit will be slightly cloudy. With the passage of time, the condition progresses from a foggy layer to becoming more opaque, resulting in blindness. You could easily see a white layer covering your pet’s eye.

However, there are surgeries available to counter cataracts, but they are somewhat risky, especially for older rabbits at higher risk of developing cataracts. Due to this reason, many vets would not allow surgery and will encourage you to introduce changes in your pet’s environment to assist them with their disability.

A few home remedies can be used to help treat cataracts in rabbits. One popular remedy is placing a drop of olive oil in the rabbit’s eye daily. This can help lubricate the eye and prevent the cataract from worsening. Another home remedy is placing a drop of vitamin E oil in the rabbit’s eye daily. This can help improve the rabbit’s vision and prevent the cataract from worsening.

Bumping Into Objects

Some rabbits will bump into objects in their way frequently, as they wouldn’t be paying attention to where they are going. This action is common when rabbits move at high speeds in the room. They might accidentally bump into the wall or a piece of furniture as they move too fast.  

If you see that your rabbit is bumping very often into objects when they are hopping or moving at regular speed, it could mean they are suffering from vision impairment. In such cases, they may be blind in one eye, affecting their overall mobility. With a single eye, it gets more difficult for rabbits to avoid objects in their way, making them bump into these objects.

Moving Slowly and Carefully

Rabbits tend to become less confident of their surroundings as soon as they start to lose their vision. Instead of zooming around the area, the rabbits will sniff and feel around it with their whiskers before moving, just to be extra cautious. As they cannot see after their vision is compromised, they are reluctant to run around open areas as they are unsure what they might encounter.

You may also notice that they pause to nudge various objects in the surroundings to figure out how big the object is and what it feels like. These objects can also be considered landmarks to assist them to figure out the different areas in the room.

Easily Startled

A rabbit whose eyes are failing would get startled easily by common touches or sounds. If they are not aware of your presence and you start petting them, they may get shocked. They are not always aware of what is happening around them if they cannot see properly.

Exploring Around the Edges of the Room

Rabbits with vision problems often feel safe around the room’s edges instead of being in the middle. As more objects are placed around the room’s sides, it gets easier for them to treat those objects as landmarks. It helps them feel safer as they know exactly where they are and the places to hide when scared.

Their Eyes May Look Unusual

As we have already discussed, blindness in rabbits can be caused by many problems, not just cataracts. If you feel that their eyes look unusual, it could be a physical sign of blindness. There are some symptoms that you can look out for, including;

  • Bug or swollen eyes
  • Redness around or even inside the eyes
  • Pupils unable to focus

These symptoms can also be signs of infection or any other rabbit disease. If you see any of these symptoms, it is best to consult a veterinarian, so your rabbit can get treated promptly. The vet will also tell you whether your pet is partially or fully blind.

Final Words

Rabbits are adorable and make you’re a home lively place to live in. But if they have issues with their vision, it gets very challenging to take care of them. They will bump into objects and get injured due to a lack of focus and visibility.

You must be cautious when handling blind rabbits, as they might hurt themselves. There are certain signs that can tell whether your rabbit is having vision problems. If you notice these signs, you should immediately start treatment because if left untreated, these vision problems can lead to total blindness.

The best way is to consult a veterinarian who would help diagnose your pet’s condition and start treatment which would help your rabbit recover in time.