Eye Injury

Most bird eye injury occurs from the following:

1. Interaction with another bird:

Injury due to interaction usually occurs when birds living in a multiple bird situation continually squabble, or have a fright that causes the birds to fly wildly about the cage. If two birds are observed to be continually fighting, they should not be housed together.

Multiple birds, particularly cockatiels, who are prone to frights, should only be housed in numbers in a very roomy flight cage. If they are kept in crowded conditions, injury will invariably occur.

Most eye injuries are treated with an opthalmic triple anti-biotic ointment or solution (make sure the product does not contain steroids to reduce swelling, as this can prove harmful to your bird).

If there is no apparent cut or bruising, or reason to think your bird suffered an injury—such as evidence of a fright, or observed physical aggression from another bird–your bird may have an eye disease, such as conjunctivitis or sinusitis, and this will require a vet visit for treatment. These diseases usually present with a continually weeping eye that causes the feathering around the eye to become matted and crusted; also, the bird will attempt to rub the eye on its shoulder, with its foot, or on toys and perches. These conditions need specific medications to heal—but are usually very treatable.

2. A foreign object getting into the eye:

If you notice that your bird has a weepy, sore, or wet looking eye, you should first check the eye for a foreign object. It’s not uncommon at all for seed hulls, seeds, bits of shaved plastic or wood from chewed toys, or even a tiny feather or feather particles to get trapped within the birds eye.; These can easily be observed by examining your birds eye with a magnifying glass in hand. If the eye itself looks normal, you should then gently pull the lower, then upper lid away from the eye to determine whether something is trapped and pressing up against the orb. Perform this exam with two people—one holding the bird, one examining the bird, and proceed gently, and with great care.

If an object is observed trapped within the eye, you can very likely remove it by a flushing procedure. You will need: 1) an eye dropper; 2) air temperature tap water or a plain opthalmic saline solution—not a product such as Visine or contact lens solutions. Check the label for added chemicals. If you have any doubt, use tap water; and 3) Q-tips.

While one person holds the bird (always hold the bird in a towel or cloth, to spare the feathers and secure the wings, then wrap your hands around the sides of the bird, rather than compressing the chest—or you can asphyxiate your bird), gently pull the lower lid away from the globe and allow one or two drops of water/saline solution to fall into the opened space. Allow the bird to blink to distribute the solution and flush the object into the corner of its eye. Repeat if necessary. When the object is flushed into the corner of the eye, you can brush it gently away with a wet Q-tip. Be careful NOT to allow the Q-tip to come in contact with the surface of the eye.

If the object is large, wet a Q-tip with solution, and gently touch it to the foreign object. Usually the object will adhere to the Q-tip, allowing you to remove it. If you have some opthalmic triple antibiotic ointment in the medicine cabinet, apply this to the Q-tip–this works the best for getting a foreign object to adhere. If the ointment is old, expired, has been contaminated, or contains steroids, DON NOT USE IT. Also, DO NOT USE ANTI-BIOTIC OINTMENTS INTENDED FOR SKIN WOUNDS ON THE EYE.

If you cannot remove the object or don’t feel comfortable attempting to remove the object, you should immediately take the bird to the vet. Place it in a dark container to transport. If the object is not immediately removed, it can cause serious damage to your bird’s eye, so haste is of the essence in either removing the object, or seeking a professional to perform the task.

written by: Linda Brink