Swollen eye, suspect blocked lacrimal duct

I suspect it is a blocked lacrimal duct from what i can find online. The eye is not milky or cloudy, so i do not believe there is yet an infection.

I just received this snake yesterday from the fed ex facility, i saw no signs of trauma, and none of the ithers i received in the same shipment had any injury. I spoke with the sender, and they said it was not like that upon sending. I have gotten multiple animals from this individual and am inclined to believe they are telling the truth, especially with no evidence of infection yet makes me think its recent.

The question i have, my knowledge is that of a person essentially looking through google, so for those more experienced than I; do you believe this is likely to be the case? And if it is, should i do an emergency visit to get it cleared, or is it safe to make an appointment with an exotic vet to have the blockage removed?

Pics to show what im talking about.



Other options i saw were stuck eye cap, which i doubt.
I also suspected perhaps she kept her eye up against the moist paper towel that was sent with her and it caused the eye to absorb too much moisture, but that was purely a guess with no knowledge.

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Usually this is caused by fluid buildup behind the eyecap. If the animal missed popping a cap during it’s last shed (happens more often than you think and is not obvious) that can be a culprit but it could just as easily be caused by trauma (hard shake/bump/smack/slam) or rapid pressure change or obstruction of duct

The best option, for now, is to keep it at a slightly lower humidity which will prevent extra moisture accumulation (do not got full desert approach, just avoid sodden jungle) and keep any eye on it. If the swelling persists or gets larger, go to a vet. If it goes down on its own, you should be fine

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I was able to jump into a exotic vet appointment slot that somebody canceled last minute (just barely) so she is beeing seen currently :slight_smile: will post what i find out!

Also, i believe you are a Dr. Yourself if im correct, so i greatly appreciate your insight and thank you for your time!

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Give us an update, it’s really cool to learn from these things!

:nerd_face: :blush:

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The vet stated she thinks it is genetic and that the snake has likely always had it, or she had an infection early on in life, and its a permanent result. She said her mouth is very clean with no signs of blockage or infection, and they eye doesnt look to have any infection currently either. She believes when she sheds, that it will be a bit better but the swelling will probably stay. I showed her a pic from before she was sent to me, and she believes it does still look a bit enlarged, though you can at least see the eye slit. Will see what happens when she sheds, but so far as the vet says, it isnt blocking her vision, and it is not infected. It could be drained, but would likely fill right back up since nothing can be done to fix the underlying issue.

Image of her before shipment. It seems a bit drastic of a change for me to fully agree with the vets assessment, but i dont have a degree, nor the experience to say otherwise. So, im content that she is at least not hindered by it, and isnt sick. If it clears u0 with a shed or two, all the better!

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Quick side by side makes it pretty plausable actually, the shed makes it look far worse, but size in relation to the head, its fairly similar


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That’s good news if it’s not an infection! Yay!

I will keep my fingers crossed for you guys when she sheds next.
:crossed_fingers:

Veterinarians can make mistakes, especially when it comes to reptiles. There are so many species that it’s impossible to be 100% familiar with the needs of every species they see, they have to do a lot of research for many patients, but fortunately ball pythons are pretty common. The mark of a good vet is one that will learn from their mistakes & keep rolling with the punches until the problem has been resolved.

Reptile medicine & surgery are (relatively speaking) brand new, so reptile veterinarians have to do a TON of guesswork and extrapolation from mammal species. Clogged lacrimal ducts are pretty commonly seen in mammal species, and in some dog/cat breeds is almost always present from birth (congenital)- that’s why you see the ‘tear stains’ of persian cats, shih tzus, etc.

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Yes and no. I am a Ph. not a M.
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Always happy to help as I can
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This, I will disagree with. A “birth defect” I could agree with (I have had it happen with three animals I hatched, came out of the egg like that) but there does not appear to be a genetic linkage to this when it occurs in reptiles.

But based on your before pic, I agree the animal has always had the issue and I find it hard to believe that the seller would not have noticed

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Fair, i will give them, the image i sent them vs what they are used to seeing are very different, though they did mention they went back through their pics and saw the same one i just shared and realized their mistake. It is second hand as its a older (72 year old) gentleman getting out of the trade due to medical issues, i got 2 projects from him (10 snakes total) this is the only one that was any different than described, and had i paid closer attention to the photos he sent beforehand, i would have seen the swollen eye myself. Given his age and some of the stress of handling vast amounts of animals, ill give him the benefit of the doubt that this particular issue slipped his mind, especially if it had never caused problems for him.

I know that some morphs are more prone to being born “bug-eyed”, but i never see it in just 1 eye. She is hypo orange dream pastel enchi. I am wondering if its worth breeding to see if its an inheritable defect, or if it is a one and done. If its not in the genetics, it shouldn’t be am issue, but i dont want to produce unhealthy snakes.

What are you guys opinions regarding this? Im new to breeding so am experienced opinion would definitely make me feel more comfortable with what is the right thing to do.

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On a quick sidebar, her name is now “Number 2” because the vet wanted a name when making the appointment and it was the number on her bag xD.

Now she is stuck with it haha

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I don’t have enough experience with snakes to hazard a guess, so I hit the books. Sounds like your snake has pseudobuphthalmos (technical term).

Occasionally it can return to normal on its own without treatment. Mader says that ‘if it persists, then it is an abnormality that needs treatment.’

Some folks recommend a treatment involving making a wedge in the spectacle, but I would only discuss it with a vet you are extremely confident in (not a dog/cat vet), and it sounds like there can be recurrence regardless. Mader says that the essential part of treatment is to either treat the blockage or create a new drainage canal (conjunctivoralostomy) with a needle & drain, but that is another procedure that I’d only consider with an experienced reptile vet.

I can’t find any info about potential causes or even why it needs to be treated, though I did read that the fluid that’s accumulating in the subspectacular space can sometimes have flagellates (parasites) in them. He also describes a procedure using flourescein to test for patency of the lacrimal duct, similarly to how you do for mammals.

In mammals, blocked nasolacrimal ducts are generally inherited, though you occasionally see patients with growths or that have had trauma to the snout or face. I am totally unfamiliar with what the literature says about heritability of eye issues in snakes, but @t_h_wyman is generally on point.

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Thats a good idea on the flourocone (i assume its essentially a “dye” that can be injected to see if it drains down the duct properly which would indicate a blockage if it failed to.

Also, if you guys see me around FB groups, its because the world is too big to source info all from one place, i like a variety of opinions, so if i get more info, ill update here!

Thanks mblaney btw for the exact wording of the condition! Now i need to find the cause and if its safe haha. Ive done all i can before my work trip, but it doesnt hurt to have info for when i return!

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Oh! Before i forget! I know i havent been name shaming or being hostile about the previous owner, but i did want to mention they actually did offer to pay for her vet visit since he goofed in regards to the eye. I declined his kind offer as i dont like the image of extorting money from sellers for the care of my animals over a small issue. But i did greatly appreciate that they offered, and wanted to mention it to be fair to them :slight_smile:

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Fluoroscein (I’m rusty so may have spelled that wrong) isn’t injected in mammals, but in reptiles with spectacles, it does have to be- very carefully and by a VERY experienced reptile vet- injected into the subspectacular space, then you watch to see if it drains out of the mouth as it glows under blacklight.

I just went looking through my old ophthamology text (Slatter’s), as it lists some potential causes:

  • ulcerative stomatitis (mouth issue)
  • congenital atresia (problem from birth that may or may not be heritable)
  • cicatrization from trauma or burns (scar formation causing blockage)
  • blockage from an external granuloma or neoplastic mass (inflammation or cancer)

Slatter also mentions treatment being a spectacular wedge resection that may need to be repeated, as well as conjunctivoralostomy by a trained expert, so both texts agree on that. Again there’s no mention of what the consequences are of not treating.

And I agree, that is very honorable of the seller. Good on him for trying his best to do the right thing. :+1:

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Perhaps ill call around and see if any vets nearby are familiar with the procedure and comfortable performing it if the problem isnt resolved by the time i return. If nothing else, if they agree with the first vet, i would feel better about leaving it be instead of treating it. It just doesnt look to be like the bug eyed trait. Though, i was able to see some babies are born with this condition, but generally its treatable and is always caused by some obstruction of the lacrimal duct from what i see even when born with it.

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NERD just put out a video on this subject and what he did to help correct it.

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I would NOT use NERD as a ruler by which to measure proper veterinary care

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No one will judge you for seeking second (and third and fourth and…) opinions. We will judge you if you follow some blatantly wrong treatment idea - like if you opt to pop the eye with a hot needle or something equally horrible. But given you have behaved as a highly responsible keeper, I doubt we have to worry about that :+1:t4: :+1:t4:
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Not a lot, sadly
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Caveat that he is also not a veterinarian, so even he advocates seeking info from a more informed person/group

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The info i got from seeking around is that the vet should have run an xray to see if there was an underlying issue, as blocked ducts dont always have visible tells in the mouth, but an xray would show inflamation, foreign bodies, and any potential tumors. So far i havent found any evidence to support that it is genetic, or that it was this way from birth (i asked the seller if they were positive that this issue hasnt been present since they got her, and they stated it is definitely a recent issue).

Considering the exotic vet i saws diagnosis relies on the seller having lied to me, and this being the 10th snake i have gotten from them and have had no issues until now, their willingness to help fund vet visits, and the lack of information about this being a genetic possibility, i am inclined to believe that the first vet has misdiagnosed (not out of malice or negligence, but experience levels vary) so i will take her to another vet and try to get xrays after i return from main.

While it seems the lancing of the spectacle is a viable procedure (as thats essentially what the vet offered to have an optometrist do as a temporary fix), i am not even close to trained enough to attempt it myself, nor am i trained enough to deal with the aftermath if i were to botch it, so my focus is getting her vet care, not winging it myself :slight_smile: haha

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I’m sorry you’re having difficulties. Finding vets who are experienced/good with exotics is challenging. Depending upon one’s location, it can be virtually impossible to find anyone even willing to work on exotics. (I’m definitely NOT dissing vets; my daughter is one! I’m just stating a fact.)

I just want to say good for you for doing your best to have your animal properly diagnosed and treated. Also, good for the seller for supporting you, trying to make things right. It always makes me crazy when breeders/sellers vanish if a buyer has an issue. I hope your snake 's eye trouble is successfully treatable.

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