Shocking find: what's going on with this deer's eye?

Knoxville, Tennessee - In Tennessee, local wildlife authorities made a frightening find!

The eyeball of the white-tailed deer is covered with hair.
The eyeball of the white-tailed deer is covered with hair.  © National Deer Association

In a suburb of Knoxville, a disoriented, bloodied, and sick deer was reported to local wildlife authorities. Sadly, they had to put the sick animal out of its misery.

Upon closer inspection of its body, the authorities discovered that something was wrong with the deer's eye – it looked like it was completely covered in hair!

Wildlife biologist Sterling Daniels from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency then sent the animal's head to the University of Georgia's College of Veterinary Medicine for analysis.

There an examination revealed that the buck had "corneal dermoids" – its eyeballs were indeed covered with fur.

This phenomenon is a developmental defect that often occurs directly after birth and causes the eye's tissue to not form as it should.

One of two bucks know to have hairy eyeballs

The animal survived in the wild for about a year and a half (iconic image).
The animal survived in the wild for about a year and a half (iconic image).  © 123rf/ James Cumming

Corneal dermoids produce hair follicles, sweat glands, collagen, and fat – basically, the stuff that skin is made of. In this case, the deer's body was producing the wrong kind of cells for that part of its body.

Scientists think that the animal dealt with the mutation throughout its life. But the condition got worse overtime until the animal was almost completely blind.

"I'd compare it to covering your eyes with a washcloth. You could tell day from night, but that’s about it," Daniels told the National Deer Association.

Apart from the hair on it's eyeballs the internal structure of the buck's eyes were normal.

According to The Deer Association, this is only the second recorded case of this extremely rare developmental defect.

Cover photo: National Deer Association

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