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This information is provided by Provet for educational purposes only.

You should seek the advice of your veterinarian if your pet is ill as only he or she can correctly advise on the diagnosis and recommend the treatment that is most appropriate for your pet.

Cataracts are seen quite frequently in birds - and there are a variety of causes

Birds rely much more on eyesight than other species such as dogs. In the wild impaired vision is likely to result in a reduced ability to feed and an increase in vulnerability to predators and other natural dangers. In captive birds cataracts are only of cosmetic significance unless they are associated with another condition.

Opacity of the lens in avian species is not uncommon and a variety of causes have been recognised, including :

  • Developmental abnormalities - seen in raptors
  • Genetic cataracts- autosomal recessive cataract formation in canaries, cataract with crooked toes in Brahma chickens, cataract with hypoplasia of the optic nerve in turkeys
  • Post-trauma
  • Senile cataracts
  • Nutritional deficiency - eg vitamin E deficiency in turkeys
  • Toxicity - eg dinitrophenol poisoning in chickens
  • Secondary to other ocular diseases - uveitis (eg due to  avian encephalomyelitis in chickens), retinal degeneration, glaucoma.

Surgical removal of a cataract is only justified if the condition is bilateral and the bird is incapacitated, for example refusing to feed. It is also only justified if the disorder is not associated with another condition that will leave the bird with impaired vision following cataract removal eg retinal degeneration.


Updated January 2016