Singapore: In a first, elderly penguins undergo cataract surgery, receive custom lenses

In a “world first,” cataract surgeries on elderly penguins were successfully executed, and replacement lenses were installed at Singapore’s Jurong Bird Park. Post surgery, the six penguins seem to be more “active” and with a spring in their step, reported the Mirror. 

Veterinarians from the Mandai Wildlife Group, who have been treating the animals, reported that three king penguins who were 20 years of age or older and three Humboldts that were between the ages of seven and 13 underwent cataract surgeries.

Further, the king penguins received “custom-made intraocular lens implants,” which required placing artificial lenses on the eyes. This procedure is regarded as a “first for penguins” across the world.

Cataracts are an age-related eye disorder that commonly affects both humans and other animals.

A group lead by veterinarian ophthalmologist Dr Gladys Boo performed the procedures in December of last year. Following the procedure, the penguins had to be kept out of the water and given eye medications twice a day.

“Successful cataract surgery on Jurong Bird Park’s geriatric penguins, three king penguins, and three Humboldt penguins, has helped them enhance their sight and improve their quality of life,” said the Madai Wildlife Group, who spoke to the Mirror. 

“The surgeries involved the removal of the cloudy lenses caused by cataracts, a common age-related condition that develops in geriatric animals and hinders their vision,” they added.

The surgeries were performed to “enhance their overall well-being” after veterinarians realised the penguins were having difficulty seeing.