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Red Eye in Birds

By: Dr. Barbara Oglesbee

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Diagnosis

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.

A complete history is extremely helpful in reaching a diagnosis. Be prepared to tell your veterinarian the following:

  • When the problem began
  • If the condition has changed
  • The type of diet your bird is on
  • Any potential exposure to dust or chemical irritants
  • Any potential exposure to other birds

    Diagnostic Tests

  • A thorough physical examination
  • Sampling of the conjunctiva for culture and cytology (looking at cell types for evidence of infection or inflammation)
  • Sampling the choanal (slit in the roof of the mouth) for culture and cytology
  • A complete blood count (CBC) and serum biochemistry panel
  • Blood tests or choanal samples for Chlamydiosis (Psittacosis)
  • Radiography (X-Rays) to look evidence of sinus infection or destruction of bone
  • Endoscopy or viewing the choanal, ears or air sacs with a rigid endoscope to collect samples for biopsy or culture

    Treatment

    Treatment may include any of the following:

  • Removal of environmental irritants, such as dust, cigarette smoke or bird dander
  • Humidifying the air in the bird's environment or providing filtration
  • Antibiotics or anti-fungal medications

    Bird showing severe symptoms, especially difficulty breathing, lethargy or loss of appetite may require hospitalization for 24-hour care.

    Home Care

    If your bird has an increased redness to the eyes and has no other symptoms, you can do the following:
  • Move your bird to a dust-free environment.

  • Keep your bird in a separate room away from birds that create a lot of feather dust (cockatoos, cockatiels, African grey parrots).

  • Do not smoke cigars or cigarettes around your pet.

  • Filter the air in your bird's environment with a HEPA filter.

  • If the bird is a tropical species (e.g., Amazon parrot, macaw) provide adequate humidity.

    After seeing the veterinarian, be sure to give all medication as directed, for as long as directed, even after the symptoms appear to be gone.

    If improvement is not seen, report this to your veterinarian. If the redness is worsening or the bird develops other symptoms, alert your veterinarian immediately.

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