Congenital Ocular Abnormalities in Free-Ranging White-Tailed Deer

Lorelei L. Clarke, Kevin D. Niedringhaus, K. Paige Carmichael, Michael K Keel, Heather Fenton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Congenital ocular abnormalities in cervids have been previously reported as individual cases from various regions of the United States and include microphthalmia, anophthalmia, congenital cataracts, dermoids, and colobomata. A common underlying cause for these abnormalities, such as nutritional deficiencies, environmental toxin exposures, or genetic mutations, has not been established. This retrospective study summarized and compared cases of suspected congenital ocular abnormalities in free-ranging white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) submitted to the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study (SCWDS) in Athens, Georgia, to the preexisting literature. Of 3645 accessions of white-tailed deer submitted to SCWDS, 15 qualifying case records were found. An additional 15 cases were reported previously in the literature. Conditions described in SCWDS cases included microphthalmia (8/15), congenital cataracts (3/15), anophthalmia (2/15), colobomata (1/15), anterior segment dysgenesis (1/15), ectopic lacrimal gland tissue (1/15), and congenital blindness with corneal opacity (1/15). Most (11/15; 73%) of the SCWDS cases were male fawns with an average age of 4 months at presentation, consistent with previously described cases. Most animals had bilateral abnormalities with few extraocular congenital abnormalities, also consistent with existing reports. Cases were variably tested for various infectious agents at the time of submission; 2 cases were seropositive for bluetongue virus. Spatiotemporal clustering of cases was not evident. This study provided a concise and systematic summary of known existing cases of congenital ocular defects in fawns but did not identify a cause.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalVeterinary Pathology
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018


  • anophthalmia
  • cataract
  • coloboma
  • congenital
  • deer
  • eye abnormalities
  • microphthalmia
  • Odocoileus virginianus
  • wild animals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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