Red Eye in Birds - Page 1

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Red Eye in Birds

By: Dr. Barbara Oglesbee

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Red appearing eyes in pet birds are usually due to inflammation of the conjunctiva (mucous membrane surrounding the orbit), the nictitating membrane (third eyelid) or the eyelids. Some species of birds have a red-pigmented iris and therefore normally have a red eye.

It is common for birds to have reddening of the eyes or surrounding structures alone with no other symptoms. This is especially true of cockatiels. Birds with inflammation of the eyes or surrounding structures, however, may have also have an ocular discharge. And, since the sinuses are intimately associated with the eye, many birds will also have symptoms of upper respiratory tract disease, such as sneezing or nasal discharge.

Your veterinarian will recommend specific diagnostic tests depending on how severe the symptoms are or how long the problem has been going on. Chronic or recurrent redness to the eye or redness accompanied by signs of respiratory disease may require extensive diagnostic testing. Occasionally, irritants from the environment (dust or chemicals) may cause a temporary reddening of the conjunctiva or lids. If the redness persists for over 24 hours, or if other symptoms are present, veterinary attention is necessary.

What to Watch For

  • Swelling around the eye
  • Sneezing or nasal discharge
  • Lethargy
  • Excessive sleepiness, ruffled feathers and tucking the head under the wing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Leaning forward and stretching the neck out to breathe, open-mouthed breathing, puffing out of the cheeks with each breath or bobbing of the tail with each breath

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