Ocular Lesions in 67 Snakes Seen at a University Veterinary Teaching Hospital (1985–2010)
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2012

Jennifer C. Hausmann1,5, DVM; Steven R. Hollingsworth2, DVM, DACVO; Michelle G. Hawkins3, VMD, DABVP; Philip H. Kass4, DVM, PhD, DACVPM; David J. Maggs2, BVSc, DACVO

1Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, 2Department of Surgical and Radiological Sciences, 3Medicine and Epidemiology, 4Department of Population Health and Reproduction, University of California, Davis, CA, USA; 5Present Address: Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, Druid Hill Park, Baltimore, MD, USA


The distribution and clinical course of snakes diagnosed with ocular disease at a veterinary medical teaching hospital were described (VMTH). Medical records of all snakes presented from 1 April, 1985 to 1 October, 2010, were reviewed. Signalment, duration, diagnosis, therapy, and response were recorded for all snakes with ocular disease. Ocular disease was detected in 67/508 (13%) of snakes examined. Affected snakes were of the Boidae, Pythonidae, Colubridae, and Viperidae families. No significant difference in distribution of taxonomic family (p=0.14), age (p=0.33), or sex (p=0.76) was detected between snakes with and without ocular disease, but snakes of the genus Epicrates (Boidae family) with ocular disease were over-represented (p=0.0002). The most common diagnoses across families were retained spectacle (58%), pseudobuphthalmos/subspectacular abscessation (18%), trauma (11%), and cataracts (6%). Pseudobuphthalmos/subspectacular abscessation was more likely in Colubridae than non-Colubridae (p=0.0056). Follow-up information for 25/41 snakes with retained spectacles revealed recurrence/relapses in nine; five of which had multiple recurrences. Follow-up information for 9/13 snakes with pseudobuphthalmos/subspectacular abscessation revealed that two never fully resolved and six improved immediately following surgery; however, one had a recurrence and four had multiple recurrences/relapses. In conclusion, snakes of the genus Epicrates had a higher than expected frequency of ocular disease, and those of the family Colubridae had a higher than expected frequency of pseudobuphthalmos/subspectacular abscessation.


The authors thank the clinicians, residents and staff of the Companion Avian and Exotic and Ophthalmology Services at the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital.

Reprinted with Permission from the ACVO

Previously presented in abstract form at the 2011 Annual Conference of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, October 2011.


Speaker Information
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Jennifer C. Hausmann, DVM
University of California
Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital
Davis, CA, USA

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