Bilateral vision loss in a captive cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus)

Vet Ophthalmol. 2010 Sep;13 Suppl:128-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1463-5224.2010.00809.x.


The following case report describes a 1-year-old female cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) with bilateral blindness and unresponsive pupils. For comparison, a second healthy 2.5-year-old male cheetah without visual deficits was also examined. Clinical examination of both animals included biomicroscopy, indirect ophthalmoscopy, tonometry, and electroretinography. The young female cheetah showed no menace response, no direct or indirect pupillary light reflex, and no dazzle reflex in either eye. Fundus lesions, as detected by indirect ophthalmoscopy, are described for the female animal. In both eyes, the fundus color was green/turquoise/yellow with multiple hyperpigmented linear lesions in the tapetal area around the optic nerve. The optic nerve head was dark gray and about half the normal size suggesting bilateral optic nerve hypoplasia and retinal dysplasia or differentially optic nerve atrophy and chorioretinal scarring. The ERG had low amplitudes in the right eye but appeared normal in the left eye compared with the male cheetah. Blood levels did not suggest current taurine deficiency. This is addressed to some degree in the discussion. Bilateral optic nerve hypoplasia or optic nerve atrophy is a rare anomaly in cats and has not yet been described in a cheetah.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Acinonyx*
  • Animals
  • Animals, Zoo
  • Blindness / veterinary*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Optic Nerve Diseases / veterinary*