Duchess, a blind 43-year-old elephant at the Paignton
Zoo in Devon, England, has experienced her own miracle after undergoing
one of the largest cataract operations ever. In September an ophthalmologist and his assistant spent three hours performing the surgery to restore vision to her left eye.
Duchess had been able to see little more than the difference between dark and light. Thanks to the surgery she will have clear vision out of her left eye again. In 2011, she had to have her right eye removed due to pain from glaucoma. The zoo has made sure that her welfare and quality of life has been a priority and she receives a lot of attention of zoo staff. Elephants have an excellent sense of smell and acute hearing, so Duchess has been missing very little of what has been going on around her. Zoo officials believe that she could live another ten years and the restoration of her vision could improve the quality of those years.
After the surgery Duchess has been up, moving around, and making her usual bellowing sounds. She will occasionally rub the tender eye, perhaps wondering at the fact that she can see again as much as for any sensitivity. She seems to be recovering well.