Specialist Ophthalmology surgeons at Willows Veterinary Centre and Referral Service in Solihull have performed a series of innovative procedures on a kitten suffering from eyelid agenesis – a birth defect which affects development of the eyelids and can lead to ongoing ocular discomfort and corneal ulcers. In extreme cases this can lead to removal of the eye.


Stevie was rescued by Cramar Cat Sanctuary along with her sister at just four months old, and received her first operation at six months. Receiving a skin graft from her lip to help reconstruct an eyelid for her left eye, the now two-year-old, who received her final surgery last month, has complete function in both eyelids. The right upper eyelid which was also affected by the condition but to a lesser degree underwent a shorter procedure at the same time to evert the eyelid margin.


Mike Rhodes, a European and RCVS Specialist in Veterinary Ophthalmology at Willows, said: “These types of operations are rarely performed due the condition being relatively uncommon as well as the costs involved in referral, especially in a charity/rescue situation.”


“My wife works at the cat sanctuary and noticed that Stevie and her sister were in chronic discomfort so asked me to take a look at both kittens. Unfortunately the other kitten’s ocular problems were much more severe and she needed both eyes removed, but Stevie has made a full recovery and both cats have now been adopted by a family in Oldbury.”


Sam and Paul David adopted both cats from the sanctuary, which insisted that they were housed together. Sam said: “I can’t thank Mike and Willows Animal Hospital enough for what they have provided. It really is an amazing place and I’m very grateful to Cramar Cat Sanctuary for referring us there.
“We adopted Stevie before her operations and the differences in her temperament is remarkable. Although she didn’t seem to be in pain before, she was often grumpy and feisty. Now she is very placid and gets on well with everyone – although she’s definitely a daddy’s girl.
“Due to their ocular problems, Stevie and her litter mate are both house cats. Her sister is blind but watching her run around and play you wouldn’t know that. She followed Stevie at first but now that she knows where everything is, she’s confident enough to run around and is actually the more adventurous of the two.”

Willows offers one of the strongest veterinary ophthalmology services in the UK, providing advanced diagnostic and surgical facilities for its eye patients. To find out more about the state-of-the-art centre, please visit