How To Tell If Your Rabbit Is Blind?

Categorized as Bunny Health Tagged

Last Updated on April 8, 2022 by Rei Garnet

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

While the most common causes of blindness are 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 as I explain in more detail how you can tell if your rabbit is blind:

Signs that your rabbit is blind

A rabbit's eye with what appears to be a mild case of cataracts.
“Rabbit Eye” by photoholic1 is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Rabbits have excellent senses that can compensate if they are having vision problems. This makes it hard to detect if something is wrong with their vision.

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

1. Your rabbit regularly bumps into things when running.

Rabbits without vision problems are excellent navigators and will 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? Do they suddenly stop when near a wall or an object?

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

2. 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 them compensate for the lost vision.

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

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

If you want to test 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.

4. 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 get your rabbit. Does it get startled even though your rabbit is looking in your direction? If so, check for physical signs like:

5. Physical changes or deformities in the eyes.

Physical signs or changes in your rabbit’s eye are the best ways 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

A closed-up look in a rabbit's eye. A veterinarian checking the eye of the rabbit for deformities.
“Rabbit eye check up” by cwwung is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

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:

1. 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.

2. 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. Within a month of exposure, E. cuniculi can infect the rabbit’s eyes and brain.

E. cuniculus is a serious condition that should be looked at by a veterinarian. 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.

3. Scratched eye

Scratched eyes are 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.

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Make sure that your rabbit’s bedding is not dusty and that 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.

4. 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

Here are the most common signs that your rabbit might be blind or have vision problems:

  • Clumsiness or regularly bumping into things when running
  • Going in the wrong direction when being called
  • Pupil not responding to light
  • Unusually sensitive to otherwise normal sounds.
  • 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 (May 2, 2022) 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 - May 2, 2022, 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

By Rei Garnet

I’ve loved and cared for rabbits since I was 9 years old, and I’m here to share my passion for rabbits. My objective is to help rabbit owners give their rabbits the best life possible.