Campus News

Associate professor discusses hairy deer eyeball anomaly

Nicole Nemeth, an associate professor of pathology in the College of Veterinary Medicine, was recently quoted in a National Deer Association article about a recent case concerning a buck with hairy eyeballs.

After local police and animal control dispatched the deer, the buck was shipped to the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study unit within the College of Veterinary Medicine to be examined and tested for chronic wasting disease.

Although the CWD test was negative, the deer did have somewhat of an anomaly: hairy eyeballs.

Nemeth wrote in a formal report for the SCWDS unit that other than being covered by hairy skin, the buck’s internal eye structures were completely normal.

“We assume these to be congenital (existing at birth), so we surmised that it survived a long time with those,” she said. “Again, assumptions, but we also assumed the dermoids developed gradually and that the deer was able to adapt to its decreasing field of vision over time. How fast they develop over time probably isn’t well known and may vary case to case.”

The article continued to emphasize that this is only the second documented cause of corneal dermoids in a whitetail deer.