Cambridge Veterinarian Saves a Tiger’s Eye


A veterinarian in England performed a ‘world-first’ surgery to heal an ulcerated cornea on the eye of a tiger.

The 17-year-old Sumatran tiger Ratna is now fully recovered at her home in Shepreth Wildlife Park, after an operation on her left eye that successfully restored her eyesight. The surgery was performed by Dr. David Williams, from Queen’s Veterinary School Hospital at the University of Cambridge.

Back in 2017, Ratna had a cataract removed from her left eye, but then developed a corneal ulcer. Williams suggested that the ulcer could have been caused by something as innocent as Ratna poking her eye against a stick of bamboo. But whatever the cause, Ratna’s eye “was a horrendous mess,” and her trainers observed that it had affected her coordination.

The operation performed on Ratna is commonly performed on domestic cats and dogs, and Williams completed it the same way he would have on smaller animals. But being a bigger cat, Ratna needed “a lot more anaesthetic.”


It is believed to be the world’s first hood graft procedure on a big cat. The operation involves covering the cornea with a flap of the conjunctiva — the pink part of the eye. Covering the cornea allows it to heal.

Two months after the surgery, Ratna is doing well. Williams says that between the earlier cataract surgery and the more recent corneal ulcer, the tiger will never fully regain the vision in her left eye. But her coordination has returned, the pain of the ulcer is gone, and Williams told the BBC that Ratna is “absolutely fine; you’d never know anything had been wrong.”


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