What are Blindness?
While there are many reasons why your bird may go blind, they adapt quickly as the condition progresses. Many owners are not aware that their bird is blind until their avian veterinarian points it out. if your bird is blind, don’t go rearranging their perches as this will confuse them. They will know where their dishes and roosting perches are from memory, so the key point is to leave their environment as they are used to. When you approach them, give them a warning such as talking to them, to let them know you are approaching, otherwise they may panic.
There are many factors which might affect your bird’s eyesight causing blindness, but generally, your pet bird will adjust perfectly and adapt particularly well.
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Symptoms of Blindness in Birds
Often it is not easy to determine if your bird is going blind unless it is linked to disease which then makes it obvious.
- Lack of appetite
- Ruffled feathers
- Blinking more than usual in an attempt to focus on distant objects
- Red weeping eyes
- Gritty flaking skin around the eye
- Feathers growing into the eye area
- Swelling around the eye area
- A discharge from the eyes
Vision loss can be partial or total loss and can affect one or both eyes, but a domesticated bird will adapt quickly to this condition.
Causes of Blindness in Birds
- Vitamin deficiency is a cause of eye disorders
- Both Vitamin E and A assist with vision and are required in adequate doses for the healthy development of the eye – check your bird’s diet to ensure a quality level of feed is being provided
- Age can be a factor
- Bacterial infections such as salmonella can lead to more serious problems including partial or total blindness – as birds seem to react quickly to infections, taking action to provide relief immediately is advised
- Cataracts are usually age related and can often affect both eyes and can cause blindness if not treated
- Fungal infections can also lead to vision impairment – often caused through moldy food
- Scratches and physical injury such as a scratch to the eye can be a cause of vision loss
- Conjunctivitis can also create vision problems
Diagnosis of Blindness in Birds
If your bird is displaying any of the symptoms above, then it is vital that you take your friend to see the avian specialist. He will examine your bird thoroughly and prescribe treatment. Birds seem to have a fast response to illness, if they are sick they go downhill fast. But once treated they can recover just as quickly. If you have a sick bird on your hands, don’t wait until tomorrow as it may be too late to help them. Act now and nip any illness in the developing stages.
While nothing can restore your bird’s eyesight once it is totally lost, clearing up any infections or disease will make his life a lot more pleasant and enjoyable. Removal of cataracts and clearing up the conjunctivitis may help your bird to regain partial or full sight if they have been the cause of the loss of vision. Your avian doctor will also check for other signs of disease such as atherosclerosis, which is a hardening of the arteries that can lead to central nervous system signs such as seizures and vision loss.
Treatment of Blindness in Birds
In most cases there is no treatment for blindness in birds but with the assistance of your veterinarian, clearing up any health-related issues may improve any remaining vision. Your bird can form cataracts very quickly, often within weeks as opposed to humans where it can often take years. This formation of the cataract can very quickly lead to blindness. Antibiotics or other medications such as anti-inflammatories may be prescribed to clear up your bird’s eyes and system.
Warm eye compresses can be used to clear up infection and crusting around the eyes. Using natural aloe vera juice right from the plant and at room temperature makes soothing healing drops to the eye to assist vision health – just ensure that you keep the plant portion in the refrigerator during the course of treatment, and warm it to room temperature before use. While vision loss is a huge thing for a human, your bird and especially the parrot species, will just adjust and get on with his life. Ensuring your bird has adequate ventilation and that your bird is not being crowded out in his cage will safeguard his well being as he goes about his daily life.
Recovery of Blindness in Birds
Once your bird has been diagnosed as officially blind, management of his care and environment is all you can do. Keeping your bird healthy with a quality diet, and allowing him lots of space in his cage without overcrowding will help him to maintain a quality of life. You will find that his blindness won’t concern your bird, if he feels safe (don’t creep up on him - always give a warning of your approach).
Leave his perches, bowls and toys where he remembers them, and he will be happy. Keeping the cage in a hygienic condition without using toxic chemicals to clean it will ensure he remains healthy. Because of their small size, a little bit of chemical that wouldn’t affect us will assuredly affect him. So be aware, and protect your little friend as he adjusts to a sightless life.