Unhealthy rabbit eyes: Info and Facts

Last Updated on June 15, 2023 by Admin

Regardless of age or breed, unhealthy rabbit eyes are among the common ailments that can affect domestic bunnies. The underlying causes are mainly inflammation, a bacterial infection such as conjunctivitis, or dental health problems such as overgrowth teeth.

Some of the symptoms of unhealthy rabbit eyes include swelling, redness, cloudiness, and worst-case scenario blindness. This article looks in-depth at the tell-tale signs of eye infections, the solutions, and also the frequently asked question relating to rabbit eye problems.


What do healthy bunny eyes look like?

A rabbit’s healthy eyes are bright and clear even when you inspect them closely by opening their eyelids. In addition, their eye tissue is usually pink and any other color such as red or pale pink is most likely an infection.


What does an infected rabbit eye look like?

Depending on what has caused unhealthy rabbit eyes, the symptoms often vary with each specific case. Below are some of the common eye conditions, their signs, and how to treat each infection.


  • Cataract

This condition is may affect older rabbits and is usually caused by the opacification of the eye lens. As a result, it hinders light from reaching a bunny’s retina which in turn affects their eyesight by making vision blurry. Transmission is mainly genetic, occurring during birth from Doe to kittens. Cataract symptoms include whitish discharge from both eyes, iris swelling, or cloudiness of the lens in one or both eyes. The best treatment for cataracts is surgery which a veterinarian who’s an eye specialist can cure by removing the affected lens.


  • Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis eye disease is caused by a bacterial infection known as conjunctiva which affects the pink part surrounding a rabbit’s eyelid. In other words, this infection also referred to as pink eye leaves one or both bunny eyelids red and sore. It’s mainly caused when a bunny’s living conditions are poor. Conjunctivitis treatment is usually antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin, chloramphenicol, or gentamicin which may be prescribed by a vet.


  • Dacryocystitis

Dacryocystitis is another common eye condition that causes tear duct inflammation either on one or both eyes. The main causes of weepy eye or dacryocystitis are bacterial infection, root inflammation, eyelid wounds, or even respiratory infections. The common symptoms include wet skin around the eyes, red swelling around one or both eyes, and matted fur or crust forming around their infected eyes.

  • Eye Ulcers

A damaged cornea is most likely to cause infections that lead to unhealthy rabbit eyes. An accident that ends up puncturing their eyeball can be a result of rabbit fights or something foreign hitting their eye. In other words, eye ulcers usually cause great discomfort for your pets. In terms of treatment, use antibiotics or fluorescein drops to prevent infection. Lastly, place an Elizabethan collar on your bunny’s neck to prevent them from scratching or rubbing their eyes until they heal.


  • Pasteurellosis

This eye disease is spread by Pasteurella bacteria which basically affects a bunny’s respiratory system. Not only does Pasteurellosis affect a rabbit’s lungs and ears, but it also leads to eye infections. The symptoms include eyelid inflammation from the inside and crusting or discharge around a rabbit’s eyelid. Pasteurellosis treatment normally takes between 2 to 4 weeks after infection. The antibiotics your vet is likely to prescribe within the first two or four weeks of infection include ciprofloxacin, enrofloxacin, and trimethoprim.

  • Retrobulbar Abscess

This type of abscess occurs when a rabbit has an eye infection that ends up causing pus to fill the cavity behind its eyeball. The main causes of  Retrobulbar abscess include bite wounds, elongated incisors blocking their tear ducts, or an eye infection from a foreign body. The treatment for this eye problem is surgery to extract the overgrown incisors. Your vet will then follow up with antibiotic treatment and anti-inflammatory drugs.


Why does my rabbit’s eye look weird?

Other than the six common rabbit eye infections, there are other two rare ones that will make your rabbit eye look weird. The first infection is exophthalmos or eye proptosis. It basically causes a rabbit’s entire eyeball to bulge. The main causes are an eye or head socket deformity, tumor, abscess, dental issue, head or eye injury, and even respiratory issues. Treatment for this rare eye infection entirely depends on the diagnosis after an x-ray or CT scan.

The other health issue that makes your rabbit’s eye look weird is Iris Prolapse. In other words, a rabbit’s iris protrudes to the extent of sticking out of the cornea. Diagnosis and treatment should be done as soon as possible to prevent infection from spreading and damaging the entire eyeball. The main causes of Iris prolapse are post-surgery complications during cataract or corneal transplant, eye ulcers, or rheumatoid arthritis which causes a corneal melt.


Why is my rabbit’s eye cloudy?

A rabbit’s eye appearing cloudy is mainly due to a bacterial infection known as encephalitozoon cuniculi. Other causes include increased glucose absorption levels in their blood, nutritional deficiency, or the development of cataracts.


What is the nest box eye in rabbits?

Nest box eyes are a condition where kittens or baby rabbits get debris on their eyes while they’re in a nesting box. It could be hay or dust which makes the affected eye get crusty or completely shut. The condition mainly occurs during infancy when baby bunnies open their eyes for the first time.


How do I clean my rabbit’s eyes?

Rabbits are naturally self-grooming animals who essentially take care of their eye health. However, only clean their eye when it has pus. Without applying any pressure, gently place a clean moist cloth on your pet’s eye. Let the cloth try to absorb any substance for a few seconds before you gently wipe their closed eye a few times. However, if symptoms of the infection persist, the best option is to take your pet to a veterinarian.


Can rabbits lose their sight?

Yes, sometimes rabbits are born blind as a consequence of bad genes or they may lose their sight due to eye conditions such as cataracts. Blindness can also be related to old age, trauma, or glaucoma (high pressure in their eyes preventing fluid regulation).

Some of the common signs of a rabbit with lost eyesight include slow movement, bumping into objects, or delayed visual stimuli response. Some of the blindness symptoms include dilated pupils, receding eyeballs, cloudiness, swelling, and redness around the eyes.

When it comes to treating rabbit impaired vision, it’s always recommended to consult a veterinarian. After examining your bunnies using a head x-ray or ophthalmoscope, they can determine the likely cause. It can be due to cataracts, glaucoma, abscesses, or tumors. In other words, treatment is 50/50 depending on the symptoms and how early they are detected.

Unhealthy rabbit eyes

How can I help my blind rabbit?

The best you can do to help your visually impaired bunnies is to alert them as you approach, since they easily get spooked Also, keep things consistent around their living space. For instance, their litter box, food, and water bowl should always be on the same spot. Lastly, ensure that their living area is space or play area is free from obstacles.

Can a blind rabbit be happy?

Yes, most definitely. Blindness doesn’t affect a rabbit’s quality of life provided that things are consistent around the house. Other than that, if their habitat is conducive and they are mentally stimulated, being blind won’t be an issue.


Do old rabbits go blind?

Just like us humans, rabbits’ vision deteriorates over time. Averagely at around 7 or 8 years, they might start to develop cataracts which may lead to poor sight and may eventually cause blindness over time. However, cataracts can be surgically removed and your senior rabbit’s vision can be restored once again.


Why are my rabbit’s eyes blue?

A rabbit having blue eyes is a result of smaller eumelanin and larger pheomelanin particles. This eye color is quite rare and is mainly found on white Vienna rabbit breeds.



How can I treat my rabbit’s eye infection at home?

Regularly clean your bunny’s eye using a clean moist cloth to remove any discharge. Then apply antibiotic eye drops and anti-inflammatory pain reliefs recommended by your vet. The former essentially kills any bacteria while the latter eases pain.



To prevent any eye health problems, ensure that your rabbit’s bedding is clean and dust-free, and also clean their living space regularly. Also, feed your pets with good-quality hay to keep their teeth trimmed. In addition, ensure that unhealthy rabbit eyes are checked by a vet as soon as possible. Home remedies should act as temporary solutions since they’re most likely to delay effective treatment.


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