Ultrasonic Anatomy of the Sea Lion Eye (Zalophus californianus and Otaria byronia) and Early Detection of Cataractous Changes
IAAAM 2014
Geraldine Lacave1*; Eduardo Huguet2
1Marine Mammal Veterinary Services, Brugge, Belgium; 2Oftalmovet, Valencia, Spain


A project was started at the Amneville zoo in France to desensitize sea lions for voluntary eye ultrasound. There have been several reviews and publications about pinniped eye disease1,2,4,5 and surgery6,8 recently and references on the sea lion eye anatomy through ultrasound seemed appropriate3,7. A Logiq e VET and Logiq e BT12 with I8-18 RS, 12L-RS, 8C-RS and 4C-RS probes from General Electrics were used, with the preference given to the I8-18 RS probe. Different positions for the animals, the trainers and the veterinarian were tested such as to have the most comfortable access to scan the eyes. Both open, after utilization of topical anesthetic or in-water scanning, and closed eye ultrasounds were performed in several animals to record images and videos of the eye. Reference images of the internal eye structures were henceforth obtained. Ultrasound can help in the diagnose of retinal detachment, foreign bodies, swelling/inflammation, tumors and other disorders that are sometimes difficult to identify through lack of pupillary dilatation and/or direct ophthalmoscopy. Identification of cataract and anterior luxation are high on the list. Surgical removal of the lens has become more frequent in pinnipeds,8 generally through an intra- or extracapsular approach upon full ripening of the lens. The training allowed for the follow-up of cataract development in an animal and the identification of early cataractous changes in another. This early detection through ultrasound may potentially allow a surgery by phaecoemulsification, less invasive and the most widely used cataract surgery nowadays, because performed at an earlier development of the disease. Ultrasonic examination of the eye is also seen as a helpful diagnostic tool pre- and post-surgery.


SCIL France, distributor of the GE ultrasound machines in France, sponsored the project by providing the equipment.

* Presenting author

Literature Cited

1.  Colitz CMH, Saville WJA, Renner MS, McBain JF, Reidarson TH, Schmitt TL, Nolan EC, Dugan SJ, Knigthtly F, Rodriguez MM, Mejia-Fava JC, Osborn SD, Clough PL, Collins SP, Osborn BA, Terrell K. Risk factors associated with cataracts and lens luxations in captive pinnipeds in the United States and the Bahamas. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2010;237:429–436.

2.  Miller S, Colitz CMH, St. Leger J, Dubielzig R. A retrospective survey of the ocular histopathology of the pinniped eye with emphasis on corneal disease. Vet Ophthal. 2013;16(2):119–129.

3.  Simon M. Echographie oculaire et orbitaire. In: Chetboul V, Pouchelon JL, Tessier-Vetzel D, Bureau-Amaglio S, Blot S, Cotard JP, Simon M, Tainturier D, eds. Echographie et Doppler du Chien et du Chat. 2nd ed. Elsevier Masson; 1005:421–438.

4.  Linnehan BK, Colitz CMH, Witten HM, Thomas MH, Herrington JM, Miller SN, Samuelson DA. Examining corneal vascularization ability in pinnipeds in response to ocular injury. In: Proceedings of the IAAAM 44th Annual Conference; Sausalito, CA; 2013:42–43.

5.  Colitz CMH, et al. Epidemiological survey identifying risk factors for corneal disease in pinnipeds. In: Proceedings of the IAAAM 44th Annual Conference; Sausalito, CA; 2013:345–346.

6.  Esson DW, Nollens HH, Schmitt TL, Fritz KJ, Simeone CA, Stewart B. Aphakic phacoemusification and automated anterior vitrectomy for the treatment of juvenile cataracts in a wild harbor seal (Phoca vitulina). In: Proceedings of the IAAAM 44th Annual Conference; Sausalito, CA; 2013:62.

7.  Baumgartner K, Hoffmann I, Will H. Establishing ophthalmic ultrasound in bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). In: Proceedings of the EAAM 40th Annual Symposium; Madrid, Spain; 2012:20.

8.  Colitz MH, et al. Retrospective of clinical findings and results of lensectomies in pinnipeds: 46 cases. In: Proceedings of the IAAAM 42th Annual Conference; Las Vegas, NV; 2011:136–137.


Speaker Information
(click the speaker's name to view other papers and abstracts submitted by this speaker)

Geraldine Lacave
Marine Mammal Veterinary Services
Brugge, Belgium

MAIN : Advanced Techniques : Sea Lion Eye & Cataractous Changes
Powered By VIN