March 2012
Volume 53, Issue 14
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   March 2012
Horizontal Keratopathy In Dolphins Analogous To Keratoconus In Humans
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Carmen M. Colitz
    Aquatic Animal Health Univ of Florida, Aquatic Animal Eye Care LLC, Jupiter, Florida
  • Richard R. Dubielzig
    Pathobiol Sciences, Univ of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin
  • Robin Kelleher Davis
    Ophthalmology, Schepens Eye Research Institute and Massachusetts Eye and Ear, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships  Carmen M. Colitz, None; Richard R. Dubielzig, None; Robin Kelleher Davis, None
  • Footnotes
    Support  None
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science March 2012, Vol.53, 1111. doi:
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      Carmen M. Colitz, Richard R. Dubielzig, Robin Kelleher Davis; Horizontal Keratopathy In Dolphins Analogous To Keratoconus In Humans. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2012;53(14):1111.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Purpose: : We hypothesize that Horizontal Keratopathy, seen in Atlantic and Pacific Tursiops spp. living under human care, is analogous to keratoconus in humans.

Methods: : Slit lamp evaluation and digital photography were performed on 124 eyes, n=62 bottlenose dolphins; average age was 18.7 years with a range of 1 to 55 years. Histopathologic evaluation was reviewed of archived Tursiops globes for characteristic signs of keratoconus.

Results: : Horizontal keratopathy, the most common corneal lesions identified in dolphins, clinically initially shows varying levels of blepharospasm and a linear horizontal grey to white opacity of variable width. Other common findings included axial fibrosis with or without vascularization. With chronicity, stromal loss is evident and lesions develop surface irregularities and a coppery-green-rust colored hue. Histopathological characteristics of keratoconus found in dolphin corneas included thinning of corneal epithelium and stroma, breaks in Bowman’s layer, and breaks in Descemet’s membrane.

Conclusions: : Possible contributing causes of keratoconus include imbalances in specific proteases and elevations in IL-6 and TNF-alpha, however, a specific pathogenesis is unknown. Proposed contributing risk factors of Horizontal Keratopathy in dolphins include chronic intermittent imbalances in water quality and excessive exposure to ultraviolet radiation/sunlight. The rust discoloration of the cornea is under investigation. Tear film analysis as well as a large-scale epidemiological analysis will identify risk factors for these problems in dolphins.

Keywords: keratoconus • cornea: clinical science 

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