Eye Disorders Commonly Seen in Birds

Eye Disorders Commonly Seen in Birds

Keeping birds whether as indoor pets or as outdoor caged birds is fascinating and there's a superb choice of colourful exotic parrots to lovely little budgerigars and sweet little finches to chattering canaries and lots of other species too. Choosing which species to keep in a outdoor aviary takes quite a bit of planning, there's the cage to think about which has to be secure and large enough for birds to fly around in. Then you need to think about they type of birds you can keep in the same environment so you are sure they will not fight and injure each other.

You also need to read up on common illnesses that may affect your precious feathered stock so that you catch conditions in their early stages. This in turn gives your birds a fighting chance of making a full recovery from whatever illness they may have developed. Birds suffer from many forms of eye disorder and they can be caused by a variety of things.

An injury to the eye or a condition that's triggered by some sort of infection can lead to more serious conditions that need immediate treatment. However, the symptoms of an eye disorder may well be due to something else going on and which needs to be investigated by a vet so a correct diagnosis can be made earlier rather than later.

As a rule of thumb you should never take an eye disorder lightly and if in doubt you should seek veterinary advice as soon as possible. A vet would be able to make a thorough examination of your bird so that any other internal diseases can be ruled out as the cause of the complaint before treating the condition with the right medication.

Eye Disorders to Watch Out For

One of the more common eye disorders to affect birds is conjunctivitis and it's typically caused by a bacterial infection. A bird's eyes become red and swollen which can then lead to photo-sensitivity which is a painful condition that's exacerbated by light. However, conjunctivitis can also be a symptom of a few other health issues where birds are concerned. This includes when they suffer from any sort of respiratory infection. Other eye disorders that affect birds include the following:


Another very painful condition, uveitis affects the inner areas of the eye making them inflamed and sore. It's typically associated with other health issues namely any internal diseases that may be present. To avoid cataracts from forming, the condition needs to be caught and treated as early as possible or it could lead to other complications.


It is usually due to a deficiency of Vitamin E that birds develop cataracts although it could also be due to an infection. Sometimes when birds are exposed to artificial light for long periods, this too can be the cause cataracts to develop which is why it is essential for the right type of lighting be fitted in an aviary and which suit the species of birds kept in it.

Marek's Disease

Caused by a viral infection, Marek's disease is a particularly nasty condition and sadly once a bird is infected with the virus, they cannot be cured. However, the good news is there is a vaccination against Marek's disease which you should ask your vet about. Marek's affects a bird's eyes in many ways causing irregular shaped pupils and iris problems which can then develop into cancer.

Avian Pox

This is another viral infection which sees blisters forming on a bird's eyelids which become swollen and sore. Birds partially lose their sight when they suffer from the condition but the eyeball itself is not affected. The good news is their vision does return once the bird has been treated with the right medication and this needs to be done as soon as a bird has been diagnosed with the condition.

The Causes of Eye Disorders

The majority of eye disorders seen in birds are typically caused by some sort of bacterial infection – salmonella being one which can trigger conjunctivitis and ophthalmitis. This is another nasty conditions where eyes become inflamed with pus forming in the conjunctiva and eyeball and if left untreated can lead to blindness. On top of this salmonella is very contagious which means it can spread genetically from a parent bird to their young though the yolk.

Eye disorders can be caused by fungal infections too and which can be triggered if a bird is fed mouldy food. One of the most common fungi is Aspergillus which affects their respiratory system and affect the bird's eyes and brain function. The signs to watch out for which could indicate a bird is infected are yellow plaques forming under their eyelids which become very swollen and painful. Should the condition be left untreated, the infection will cause serious damage to a bird's eyes and sight.

Birds are delicate creatures and need to be fed a well balanced diet that contains all the right vitamins they need to remain healthy. If a diet is deficient in Vitamin E, a parent bird may well hatch out a blind chick. Vitamin A is needed so birds develop the correct eye pigmentation and lacrimation. The only way to avoid any such deficiencies is to feed birds a well balanced and nutritious diet to suit their species.

Treatment of Eye Disorders

As soon as you notice any sort of problem with a bird's eyes, you should take them to the vet so a correct diagnosis can be made earlier rather than later. The symptoms to watch out for include the following:

  • Closed eyes
  • Swelling of eye areas
  • Red and inflammation
  • Discharge
  • Avoiding light – photo-sensitivity

Once a diagnosis has been made, the vet would then prescribe the right treatment to suit the condition which may include antibiotic eye drops along with other medication. The key to successfully treating eye disorders commonly seen in birds, is to recognise there is a problem early so that treatment can be started as soon as possible.

Can Eye Disorders be Prevented?

Keeping a bird's environment as clean as possible and ensuring they are being fed a well balanced diet that contains all the right vitamins, can help reduce the chances of any eye disorders developing. You should never feed a bird any old food that may be mouldy either. However, there are certain eye disorders that will develop no matter how careful you are with your birds and as previously mentioned, the earlier a condition is treated the better. Not only would your bird not have to suffer the discomfort of an eye infection getting progressively worse but early veterinary intervention will reduce the risk of any permanent damage being done to their eyes.



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