Recently I got the following comment from a vet student from Australia, on a post I did on the blind calf we got back in 2007. This is the second comment from Australia that I have had regarding this issue. I thought I'd post this since a reader of this blog has a son in large animal veterinarian training. Perhaps he would find it interesting.
This post from back in 2007 on the Blind Calf continues to draw comments. (Follow the link if you wish to read it.) Apparently folks Google when they get a blind calf in their herd and my post comes up. I just wish folks would report back in on what happened to their calf. This particular one I blogged about never prospered, was always vision impaired, and was susceptible to infections. We took her to the sale barn when she was about 18 months old.
Hi - I'm a last year vet student from Brisbane, Australia. I found this site when doing research on a blind 1 week old dairy Swiss brown calf. This calf was reported blind, poor doer, sickly by the farmer. Myself and a few other students brought the calf back to the uni clinic to look after it. Treatment focused on support (electrolytes, milk, antibiotics and atropine eye drops). It had a pus discharge from navel, clear weeping eyes and nose, blind, depressed, anorexic, walked with stiff gait (though joints did not appear swollen). Both eyes had white opacity (cataract like)with perm constricted pupils. Now we prob have a few less/more/different bacteria/viral organisms here (Australia)but according to what I have read an endophthalmitis (aka inside eye infection)which includes vision problem/blindness (after ruling out congenital)can be caused from a endogenous infection (ie an infection somewhere else in the body). So in my case I'm thinking a navel ill (eg omphalitis) most likely Streptococcal (+ pos other bacteria) as I sampled this from the navel discharge. I'm also assuming that this calf may have not had it's quota of colostrum (so more likely to show clinical signs/get sick). This calf four weeks on is doing well. She is feeding well, still looking a little underweight but at this stage no improvement in sight. I guess (as with the original story) that if the eye is whitish etc as filled with pus it could have the possibility to eventually clear, assume in regards to vision will depend how much damage the original infection caused. If damaged than vision may never recover, or if does than the eye would always have altered structure so would be more susceptible to other problems including sun infiltration and possibly cataracts. In human medicine treating the eye infection as soon as possible is recommended to help prognosis but in many cases vision is still blurred or worse.
BTW - don't take my word as gospel - I'm just a student. Many of you described different eye colours/problems so there could be multiple bacteria/viral etc agents being the underlying cause. :)