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Adam Bannister


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on The Eye of the Leopard

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Jo Anne

One of my dog’s pupils are of different sizes also. They’ve been that way since she was a little puppy. The vet thinks it has to do with the way she views things, maybe near- or far-sighted in one eye only.

Sandy Johnson

Pink Nose had an injury to his left eye when I was there in August 2011. Would that have something to do with it? I don’t know about Vomba.


You are definitely on to something! Perhaps their eyes are so intensely focused that the slightest variation in the angle of light or the slight shadow of their nose effects the pupils. I am sure though, that there is probably a brilliant ophthalmologist that will give us a good answer!

Best always, Michael

Hi Adam-I am neither a vet nor an apthalmic specialist, but I am a huge fan of the leopards. So, I Googled here in the States and found 2 different explanations. #1 toxoplasma, which is a highly toxic communicable disease in felines, wild and domestic. Doubt that’s it, since it hasn’t been transmitted to the others and they are in constant contact. The second is found at http//ukpmc.ac.uk and is titled Neural mechanisms of pupillary abnormality following thalmic lesions. Basically, it describes abnormalities in pupils having the same light stimulous but reacting differntly following a lesion of some kind. I suspect that’s the case. These animal get into situations, which cause a lesions to there eye, and the healing process causes their pupils to react differently to the same light….I think? 🙂

Senior Digital Ranger

Wonderful observation, Adam.. And some informative responses too.
The pictures aren’t bad either!

Sarah L

I’m a vet student and certainly cannot say an answer definitively, but some anatomy could shed some light (no pun intended). There are two muscles, the sphincter and dilator, that control the size of the iris. This is what actually controls the size of the pupil. These work through one of the cranial nerves, specifically the oculomotor nerve. Mild damage to this nerve (which is actually paired, one going to each eye) on one side could affect pupil dilation. This nerve is also responsible for other eye movements and is controlled autonomically, like our heartbeat and unlike our arm and leg muscles. There is, however, another nerve for the special sense of sight, so the leopards may still be able to see just as well. I might also guess that night vision may be effected however because pupil size is so important for night vision in cats. As long as they can hunt and stay healthy, just keep an eye on it to see if it worsens or one eye loses any function.

Thank you sarah for your thoughts. Whatever the reason may be it is fascinating and going forward I will watch these 2 individuals very carefully, especially at night!


I think all of the cats eyes are a little squint to a very slight degree. Do you think that these cats all have the ability to have a Bi-Focus mechanism?

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