Unique!  Cataract chimpanzee can be seen again after surgery by ophthalmologists in Leiden |  Science

Unique! Cataract chimpanzee can be seen again after surgery by ophthalmologists in Leiden | Science

Ophthalmologists from Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) have succeeded in showing chimpanzees fifi again. Fifi developed severe cataracts in both eyes in a short time. As far as is known, this animal was the first chimpanzee to undergo such an operation in the Netherlands.




The two lenses were replaced in the eyes of Fiffy, a chimpanzee rescued by Stichting AAP in 2008. Fiffy could no longer stand the light, hiding under a blanket or covering her eyes with her hands. An AAP veterinarian decided that it could no longer be done this way and sought advice from ophthalmologists.

Chimpanzee Vevey, estimated to be between thirty and forty years old, was rescued by the AAP Foundation from a lonely life in an attic near Paris. It is not known how many years have been locked there after the owner was no longer able to handle Fiffy.

The animal was seriously overweight and had to learn a new behavior with other dogs as well as a new diet. In recent months, the connection has been less and less. It turned out that she could barely see her food or the members of her group anymore and was in danger of falling out of the group.

Chimpanzee Fifi. © AAP Foundation

First time

In the end it was decided to have an operation. “Thanks to the tremendous efforts of ophthalmologists, LUMC aides and suppliers of the necessary equipment, cataract surgery can be performed on May 23 at the AAP chimpanzee complex in Almere,” according to the AAP Foundation report.

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AAP veterinarian Hester van Bolhuis then responded :, the operation was exciting for everyone. For ophthalmologists, this was the first time they had operated on a monkey. It was also a difficult operation, because especially in the right eye the cataract (cataract) was very dangerous and the lens appeared to have fused into the capsule. The operation took two and a half hours in total, but it went well. I am so grateful for all the help and enthusiasm in getting Fiffy back her eyesight. Fifi has been through a lot in her life, and that is the least we can do for her. “


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Fiffy now has high-end lenses. Left close and right as far as reading glasses are of course not an option!

Irene Notting

LUMC ophthalmologists, Irene Notting and Yanni Cheng, are glad they were able to help Fiffy. Notting:, usually I hire very well-prepared people who can figure out what the complaint is. With this monkey, even the initial investigation was really challenging, our gear was not designed for the shape of its head. But it worked: Fiffy now has high-end lenses. Left for Close and Right for Dimension, as reading glasses are not an option, of course! “

Read under the picture.

Chimpanzee Fifi.
Chimpanzee Fifi. © AAP Foundation

Get used to

When Fiffy woke up from the anesthesia, her carers said she was overwhelmed with her newly discovered vision and never tired of her hands and the platform in her box. You see zookeepers coming from afar with strawberries, which is something you hadn’t noticed before.

Chimpanzees were pre-trained to be implanted after surgery, which they now reluctantly allow until you can see them again. It will be a special reunion when she can return to her group members later. She separated from her group for only a few days, and could barely see them for months.

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