Cataracts in Birds

By Rick Axelson, DVM

Medical Conditions

December 10, 2008

What is a cataract?

The normal lens of any animal is clear and colorless. A cataract is an increase in the density or opacity of the lens of the eye; it is often observed as a whiteness visible within the pupil.

What causes cataracts?

Cataracts are usually age related and often involve both eyes. Other causes should be explored including nutritional problems, traumatic events, metabolic diseases (like diabetes), inflammatory problems and infections. Cataracts are often seen in canaries and less so in Amazons, African Grey parrots and macaws. In canaries, cataracts can be inherited.

Are there any treatments for cataracts?

cataracts_in_birds-1Surgical removal is possible depending on the size of the bird and should be discussed with your avian veterinarian or a veterinary ophthalmologist.

Will a cataract affect my bird's vision?

It will decrease the visual acuity of the bird and may eventually lead to blindness.

What should I do if my bird becomes blind?

"As a general comment, a healthy pet bird who is blind will usually do very well."

As a general comment, a healthy pet bird who is blind will usually do very well. Many owners are not aware of the fact that their bird is blind until a veterinarian points it out to them. It is important not to rearrange the perches, toys and food dishes in a blind bird's cage since they know exactly where everything is. They will also startle easily if you approach too fast, so you should verbally let them know you are there.

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