Contacts on order for Carolina elephant

June 18, 2012 at 3:11 PM
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ASHEBORO, N.C., June 18 (UPI) -- Veterinarians at a North Carolina zoo say they are crossing their fingers as a pair of jumbo contact lenses are made for one of their elephants.

C'sar nearly went blind at the N.C. Zoo in Asheboro, but cataract surgery saved the day and has the 38-year-old bull African elephant pretty much back to normal after some harrowing months of bumping into things and being unable to eat.

The next step is to fit C'sar with a custom-made set of soft contacts that will not only protect his eyes but also compensate for the far-sightedness the pachyderm was left with after the surgery.

"My gut says that there won't be a dramatic improvement with contacts, but if you had asked me before the second surgery, I'd have said the same thing," Dr. Ryan DeVoe, the zoo's senior vet, told the Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer. "We have seen unexpected results so far, and it could happen again."

DeVoe said contacts had been used in the past on dogs and other creatures, but only as a temporary measure while their eyes recovered from surgery. If the new contacts work on C'sar, it could open up a whole new world in the field of veterinary vision.

The newspaper said C'sar, will likely get his contacts in the fall after its eyes heal further. The lenses will be held in place by the elephant's three sets of eye lids.

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