Owl undergoes surgery to get eyesight back

6-month-old owl suffers from bi-lateral cataracts in both eyes

By Jacey Birch - Anchor/Animal Advocate , Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. - An owl got a new look at life Tuesday, after it underwent surgery on its eyes at the Hollywood Animal Hospital.

The surgery done on the great-horned owl has only been performed twice on an owl. Veterinarians say the owl has bi-lateral cataracts in both eyes, so the 6-month-old bird of prey is nearly blind.

"He came out of his nest, which was about 80 feet high up in a tree and we successfully re-nested on Christmas, and then he came back to us in January --  kicked out of the nest again, which is when we discovered that his vision was not quite right," said Dr. Renata Schneider, a South Florida Wildlife Center Veterinarian.

Since the bird is so young, veterinarians had to wait until its eyes grew, since they needed mature eyes to do the surgery.

The procedure is just like human cataract surgery, where the doctor cut open the eyes and put in new lenses.

"What we're going to do is actually remove his cataract in a procedure called fakeo emulsification, which is exactly the same as in people, where a probe is going to go inside his eye," said Dr. Robert Swinger, a Hollywood Animal Hospital eye surgeon. "It basically breaks and sucks out that cataract and then we're going to implant an artificial lens in replace of it, that should return his vision to near-normal."

The owl will now need wildlife rehab before it's introduced back to its home.

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