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South Florida gorilla undergoes cataract surgery

Josephine, 42, was nearly blind before the operation.

Associated Press

Updated:October 4, 2009, 3:37 PM IST
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South Florida gorilla undergoes cataract surgery
Josephine, 42, was nearly blind before the operation.

Miami (Florida): A lowland gorilla, named Josephine, now has the gift of sight. The gorilla underwent a state-of-the-art surgery Friday (10/02) at Miami's Metrozoo to remove severe cataracts and implant new lenses in each of her eyes.

Prior to the surgery, she was nearly blind.

Josephine is 42 years old and is a senior citizen by gorilla standards, as life expectancy is rarely above 50.

Doctors at the Miami Zoo are now patiently watching the recovery progress of the gorilla.

Josephine had been displaying "anti-social behaviour" after her eyes became clouded with cataracts.

Unable to see clearly, it was affecting her interaction with other lowland gorillas, the zoo said.

Specialists were called in, even an ophthalmologist who specialises in surgery to remove cataracts in humans.

According to doctors, the gorilla eye is very similar to the human eye.

After consultations and observing the patients, doctors at Metro Zoo, decided to risk a two-hour procedure to restore her vision.

After the cataracts were removed on Friday, surgeons inserted permanent plastic lenses - much like humans are given during a regular cataract surgery.

Shortly after the surgery there were indications that Josephine was already doing better - she was sitting up.

Doctors say they expect a normal recovery period, and they expect, just as in a human patient, there will be an emotional reaction to the regaining of normal vision.

Zoo officials say Josephine will be reunited with her group this weekend - but say it may be several days before her new eyes adjust.

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