Can Goats Be Born Blind?

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Baby goats, unlike puppies and kittens, are usually born with their eyes at full function.
Baby goats, unlike puppies and kittens, are usually born with their eyes at full function. (Image: John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Newborn goats are normally born with their full vision, but on rare occasions they can be born with conditions that cause blindness. In most instances, if a goat is born blind, it will not gain vision as it ages. Blind goats are still able to live happy lives, provided the condition causing blindness is not a painful one.

Congenital Cataracts in Goats

A cataract is a hardening of an internal structure of the eye known as the lens. The lens is normally a clear structure and does not obstruct vision. A cataract turns the lens opaque and blocks vision for the animal. Goats can be born with cataracts on rare occasions. These types of cataracts are known as congenital cataracts, meaning present with birth. Cataracts can be cured with surgery, although this procedure is not frequently performed on goats. A goat with cataracts should be evaluated by a veterinarian, as they can become painful in some instances.

Chorioretinopathy in Toggenburg Goats

Veterinary Dr. Mary Smith reports on cases of Toggenburg kids who were born blind in her textbook "Goat Medicine." These kids were suspected of having a genetically linked degeneration of the retina. The retina is the portion of the eye that contains light receptors and stimulates the brain to process vision. In cases of retinal degeneration the retina is damaged and cannot transmit the visual signals to the brain. Goats born with this condition will be blind for life, although this is not a painful ailment.

Miscellaneous Causes of Blindness

There are myriad other congenital defects that could cause a goat to be born blind. Goats may be born without eyes, or may have other damage to the structures within the eyes. If the optic nerves or the region of the brain responsible for visual processing are damaged or don't develop properly in utero, the goat wil be born blind as well.

Blindness in Goats

Most animals who are blind can lead happy and productive lives, whether they are born blind or become blind later in life. Your veterinarian should examine the goat to determine whether or not the condition causes pain. If so, medications may be needed to control the discomfort. Other conditions that result in blindness do not cause any pain. Keeping the goat's living and feeding areas consistent will help it feel comfortable and live a normal life.

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