'Bullied' fish receives prosthetic eye

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Saturday, June 25, 2016
Bullied fish receives a prosthetic eye
Julie Morgan says her fish was bullied by his tankmates for being half blind.

CHESTERFIELD, MO (WPVI) -- Kiwi, a seven-year-old saltwater fish, developed a cataract and was getting bullied by his tank mates, owner Julie Morgan said.

"They figured out which eye was not working," Morgan said. "They'd go up behind him, biting his tail. He had chunks of his tail taken out."

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Now the one-eyed fish is getting a second shot at life thanks to an unusual, extreme makeover.

Kiwi's veterinarian, Dr. Megan Baebler, removed the cataract and eventually the eye, leaving the socket open.

Baebler also came up with an idea to keep Kiwi from being picked on. She made him a prosthetic eye.

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"I actually hand-painted the eye myself," she said. "I used a mixture of some nail polish and some eye shadow pigments, actually, to give it some iridescence."

The 9mm solution is an acrylic eye Baebler ordered online. She placed Kiwi under general anesthesia and performed the 30-minute surgery to insert and sew the eye.

"It's going to be the best chance for him to lead a normal life in his tank," Baebler said.

KTVI reports that Morgan said she is pleased with the result.

"A lot of other people would say, 'Yes, put him down. Go ahead, it's just a fish.' Well, my opinion is nothing is just a something. And if I could give him quality of life, why not?"

Morgan said she hopes to reunite Kiwi with his former tank mates. For now, he remains in his own holding tank.

"I think he's doing great," Morgan said. "He's eating, he's swimming. He's happy."

Baebler's clinic specializes in treating exotic pets. The procedure, she said is the second procedure of its kind and the first on a privately owned fish.