hawaii's "fire ant" eye epidemic

According to local pet clinics, anywhere from 15% to 90% of animals being seen for any problem also have "Fire Ant" Eye.   Unfortunately, there is no treatment for "Fire Ant" Eye. Hawaii veterinarians are as frustrated as pet owners in trying to find a way to prevent and cure this pet eye problem.  


Assuming the Little Fire Ant is part of the cause, keeping your pet away from the ants may help prevent this problem.  

One way pets get exposed to the ants in with food bowls

left out.  The ants are attracted to the food and then can get

into the pet's eyes.  (This may explain why cats seem to have

a higher incidence. People leave out cat food all day for the

cat to snack, but dogs usually eat their food right away.)  

If you do leave food out, place the food bowl in a larger bowl

with some soapy water.  The soap is necessary to break the

surface tension of the water to prevent the ants from walking across the water.

You can also treat your place for fire ants, but they will return if the neighborhood is still infested.  


While government funds are focused on Little Fire Ant control, no funds are being spent on research into how to treat and cure this eye problem in animals.  This research is necessary to identify the exact cause(s) of this eye problem, which can then allow us to find a cure.

Tens of thousands of animals

are already

partially blind.  And the

epidemic is spreading

islandwide, and is expected

to reach other islands soon.


The Good Shepherd Foundation is taking on the fight to identify the cause and find a cure for "Fire Ant" Eye.  

We will be raising funds for much needed research.  And we will also create a data base of “Fire Ant” Eye cases throughout the Big Island, and educate pet owners on how to protect their animals from the ants. We also are working with Big Island veterinarians and the Hawaii Department of Agriculture to develop diagnostic criteria for this eye problem and share information on treatments and the outcomes.