Twenty 6-yr-old (1995-yr-class) Gulf of Mexico sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus desotoi) were diagnosed as having bilateral cataracts. Histopathologic assessment of the lenses of two of the fish revealed the presence of a diplostomid trematode. Pharmacological treatment of the trematodes may be effective for killing the parasites, but the damage to the lenses and resulting cataracts are nonreversible. Because these animals were to be used in a subsequent study as sentinels in the natural environment, it was necessary to return the animals' vision to as close to normal as possible. Electroretinograms were performed on each fish's eyes to ensure that retinal function was present. Cataracts then were surgically removed by phacoemulsification and aspiration. The animals tolerated the surgical procedures well. This report is the first known report of surgical correction of cataracts in sturgeon species. It also is the first known attempt to correct vision problems in fish being returned to the wild.
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Vol. 36 • No. 3