Ophthalmic examination of the captive western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla)

David Liang, Thomas P. Alvarado, Deniz Oral, Jose M. Vargas, Melissa M. Denena, James P McCulley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


This study examined the captive western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) eye as compared and contrasted with the human eye. Bilateral ophthalmic examinations of western lowland gorillas (n = 5) while under general anesthesia were performed opportunistically, including slit-lamp biomicroscopy, dilated fundus examination, cycloplegic retinoscopy, Schiotz tonometry, corneal diameter and thickness measurements, A-scan and B-scan ultrasonography, keratometry, and cultures of the eyelid margins and bulbar conjunctiva. Mean spherical equivalent refractive error by cycloplegic retinoscopy was +1.20 ± 0.59 diopters. Mean intraocular pressure by Schiotz tonometry was 12.0 ± 4.3 mm Hg. Mean optic nerve head cup to disc ratio was 0.42 ± 0.11. Mean horizontal corneal diameter was 13.4 ± 0.8 mm, and mean vertical cornea diameter was 12.7 ± 0.8 mm. Mean central corneal thickness by ultrasound pachymetry was 489 ± 52 μm. Mean axial length of the eye by A-scan was 22.75 ± 0.71 mm. Mean lens thickness by A-scan was 4.23 ± 0.34 mm. Mean anterior chamber depth by A-scan was 4.00 ± 0.26 mm. Mean keratometry reading was 44.38 ± 1.64 diopters. Eyelid margin and bulbar conjunctival cultures isolated Candida sp. (n = 5), Staphylococcus aureus (n = 4), Staphylococcus epidermidis (n = 3), Staphylococcus saccharolyticus (n = 3), and Micrococcus sp. (n = 3). This study suggests important similarities between western lowland gorilla and human eyes. These similarities may allow diagnostics, techniques, and equipment for human eye surgery, such as those used for cataract extraction and intraocular lens implantation, to be successfully utilized for gorillas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)430-433
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2005


  • Comparative anatomy
  • Eyes
  • Gorilla
  • Ophthalmic examination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • veterinary(all)


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