RIVERHEAD, NY (FOX5NY) - It's lunchtime at the Long Island Aquarium. For the first time in a long time, Buoy the harbor seal can finally see what's on the menu.
"She was starting to show confusion in her ability to see and started getting spooked more easily by normal sounds in and around her habitat," Candyce Paparo, the Director of Animal Training at the aquarium says.
That's because cataracts in both eyes caused her to go blind. Surgery to reverse vision loss made the most sense because without it, the 25-year-old seal could suffer from painful side effects.
Paparo was in the operating room for the four-hour procedure last month.
"With humans they give you an artificial lens but with seals they remove it and don't put another one in," Paparo says. "A lot of times they're able to regain eyesight."
The Aquarium is in constant contact with the specialist that performed the surgery. While Buoy may need eye drops for the rest of her life, they say her quality of life is so much better now.
"A lot more interactive and eager to work with us again," Paparo says of the seal.
Buoy is also back in the water after spending two weeks in a dry holding area to heal.
"Having worked with her when she was able to see and watching her develop cataracts - it's like having the old Buoy back with us again," Paparo says.