Wono Light Trials

Posted on: January 10, 2013

Alexandria is a recent graduate of the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. She began working on her honors thesis during the summer of 2010 with Drs. Jill Richardson and Holli Byerly, studying the efficacy of bilateral cataract removal surgery in a California sea lion named “Wono”. While previous studies have demonstrated an improvement in vision following surgery, this was the first attempt to document and test post-procedural visual capacity over specific portions of the visual range. Cataracts are a common health issue in both wild and captive pinniped populations.  Thus, establishing whether cataract removal surgery is effective, and what areas of the eye are most responsive, is critical to not only improving our understanding of this condition in wild populations but also providing the best possible care for animals in managed care. Data analysis is ongoing, but the preliminary results of the study indicate a marked decrease in visual capacity with the progression of cataract development and an improvement in Wono’s vision within specific portions of her visual range post-surgical intervention.  The manuscript will be submitted for peer-review early next year. Alexandria is currently enrolled as a Masters Candidate in Marine Biology at Texas A&M University.