If you're a rabbit owner, you probably never want to hear that your baby has got sick. You especially don't want to hear that it's something as potentially serious as an infection---let alone an infection of those big, gorgeous rabbit eyes you love staring into. Unfortunately, rabbit eye infections do happen. However, the good news is that the more common ones are usually treatable
Rabbit owners regard this as akin to "the elephant in the room"---it's a disease that most domestic rabbits carry, although many don't ever show any sign of it during their lifetime. Dr. Astrid Kruse, DVM, notes that among other nasty ways in which pasteurellosis can present, bunny conjunctivitis and tear duct blockage are only two. This disease can affect a bunny's respiratory system, heart and entire body---not just his eyes. Through judicious use of antibiotics, this infection can successfully be treated.
Another common type of rabbit eye infection is dacryocystitis or infection of the nasolacrimal system (tear ducts that run from a rabbit's eyes to her nose). Symptoms include a tearful appearance and can also include a thick, gooey, whitish discharge around the eyes. Eye drops and antibiotics are usually prescribed in this case and can successfully treat this type of infection.
The vascular system of your rabbit's eye is called the uvea. By the time you notice an infection of Encephalitozoan cuniculi, it will be too late to do anything about it. It's characterised by a white mass appearing in your rabbit's eye. Dr. David L. Williams, DVM, advises that it may be treated with surgery, NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), topical steroid creams or anti-parasite medication. This infection occurs while rabbits are in utero.
Abscesses can appear anywhere in a rabbit's body, including the eyes. When an abscess grows behind a rabbit's eye, it can cause what's called exophthalmos, the medical term for an extreme eye bulge. In some pets, this is considered an acceptable way to describe a breed trait, but it's also used to describe an abnormal medical condition. Dr. David L. Williams, DVM, advises that in extreme cases, euthanasia may be the kindest course of action. He goes on to add that infections of this type are usually recurring, even with antibiotic treatment.
Myxomatosis is a rabbit-specific disease that's spread through insect bites. Fleas, mites and mosquitoes all have the potential to pass this lethal disease on to your beloved pet rabbit. If your rabbit becomes infected, several areas begin to swell and fill with fluid--especially the eyes, nose, mouth and ears. High fevers and seizures and general bunny depression will follow. As of August 2009, there is no known cure for this disease. A vaccine was developed, but as of August 2009, is not currently available to rabbits living in the U.S.