How To Tell If Your Rabbit Is Blind?

Categorized as Bunny Health Tagged
A white rabbit that's blind.

Last Updated on August 2, 2021 by Rei

You can tell if your rabbit is blind or semi-blind by looking at signs like regularly bumping on things, sensitivity to sounds, eye not responding to light, going in wrong directions when called, and physical changes/deformities in or around the eyes.

While the most common causes of blindness are due to cataracts, E. cuniculi, scratched eyes leading to corneal ulcers, or old age.

Now that I’ve given you the gist of the article, read on to know the details of each of the causes:

Signs that your rabbit is blind

Due to the fact that rabbits have excellent senses and they don’t make any noise like a dog or a cat when something is wrong with them, it’s harder to detect if something is wrong with them.

With blindness, it may be hard to detect when you don’t know what you’re looking for. Here are the most common signs that somethings wrong with your rabbit’s vision:

Your rabbit regularly bumps on things when running.

Rabbits without vision problems are excellent navigators and would rarely bump into things even if they’re running at full speed.

The opposite is true for rabbits with vision problems. Are you noticing that your rabbit is suddenly clumsy? Do they look confused when hopping around? Are they suddenly stopping when near a wall or an object?

If you notice sudden behavior changes like the ones I mentioned above, get your rabbits checked by a veterinarian for vision problems.

Your rabbit goes in the wrong direction when being called.

A rabbit that’s having vision problems would suddenly get confused about the direction the sound is coming from. This is due to the fact that the sudden loss of vision is affecting your rabbit’s other senses making it compensate for the lost vision.

But over time, rabbits actually adapt remarkably well even without vision.

Your rabbit’s eye doesn’t respond to light.

If you want to test out if your rabbit is having vision problems, try shining a light on it. A normal pupil would react to light almost immediately.

You could also look for cataracts. Look for any discolorations or physical deformities in your rabbit’s eye.

Unusually sensitive to normal sounds.

Although rabbits are easily startled by loud sounds, it can be a sign of vision problems if your rabbit is sensitive to sounds they otherwise wouldn’t.

A great example is when you’re walking to your rabbit. Does it get startled even though your rabbit is looking in your direction? If so, check for physical signs like:

Physical changes/deformities in the eyes.

Physical signs or changes in your rabbit’s eye are the best way to diagnose vision problems.

If you notice any of these symptoms, call a veterinarian to get your rabbit’s eyes checked:

  • Redness and swelling around the eye.
  • Cloudy or white appearance in one or both eyes.
  • Swelling or receding eyeball.
  • Dilated pupil
  • Wound or scratch in the eyeball.

Common causes of blindness in rabbits

Now that we know what to look for if we suspect that our rabbit might be having vision problems, here are the most common reasons why rabbits go blind:

Cataracs

You can tell that your rabbits have cataracts if they have a milky or cloudy film in the lens of their eyes. It could be from one or both eyes.

Most of the time, rabbits develop cataracts due to old age. But it could also be due to their diet, trauma, and e. cuniculi.

E. cuniculi

A closed up look on what it looks like when a rabbit has a damaged eye or when a rabbit has E. cuniculi a parasite.
Rabbit Vet, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

E. cuniculi, a parasite that infects the eyes and nervous system, is one of the major causes of blindness in rabbits. E. cuniculi can infect the rabbit’s eye and brain within a month of exposure.

E. cuniculus is a serious condition that should be looked at by a veterinarian because, with enough time, your rabbit’s eye could develop cataracts, severe inflammation, redness, and swelling of the eye. If your rabbit is not treated immediately, it could lead to permanent blindness and even death.

Scratched eye

Scratched eyes is usually caused by irritation due to foreign bodies like mange and mites. It could also be caused by bedding and hay getting stuck in the rabbit’s eye causing irritation.

If not treated, a scratched eye can cause painful corneal ulcers which could lead to blindness if not treated.

Make sure that your rabbit’s bedding is not dusty and their bedding is always clean. If you notice redness around your rabbit’s eye or missing fur caused by mange, get your rabbit checked out immediately.

Age

Old age could also be the cause of blindness in rabbits. Like us, rabbits’ eyesight deteriorates as they age, the most common cause of blindness in old rabbits is cataracts.

Summary

The most common sign that the rabbit is blind is to look for these symptoms:

  • Clumsiness or regularly bumping on things when running
  • Going in wrong direction when being called
  • Pupil not responding to light
  • Unusually sensitive to otherwise normal sound before.
  • Any physical changes in or around the eye like inflammation.

If you notice any of these in your rabbits, immediately call a veterinarian. Your rabbit might be suffering from dangerous conditions that could lead to permanent blindness or even death.

Cite this article:

Bunny Horde (November 14, 2021) How To Tell If Your Rabbit Is Blind?. Retrieved from https://bunnyhorde.com/how-to-tell-if-your-rabbit-is-blind/.
"How To Tell If Your Rabbit Is Blind?." Bunny Horde - November 14, 2021, https://bunnyhorde.com/how-to-tell-if-your-rabbit-is-blind/

Sources and further reading

  • Buseth, Marit Emilie., and Richard A. Saunders. Rabbit Behaviour, Health, and Care. CABI, 2014.
  • Lebas, F. The Rabbit: Husbandry, Health, and Production. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 1997.
  • Patry, Karen, et al. The Rabbit-Raising Problem Solver: Your Questions Answered about Housing, Feeding, Behavior, Health Care, Breeding, and Kindling. Storey Publishing, 2014.
  • Corneal abrasion and ulceration in rabbits
  • E. cuniculi
  • Cloudy Eye in Rabbits