Avian Eye Health

Photo: Corneal Ulcer

Ophthalmic (eye) examination of a corneal ulcer located on an avian patient's eye. Fluorescein eye stain flouresces bright green at sites of corneal injury when the stain is exposed to cobalt blue or UV light. An anatomically perfect cornea provides an impermeable barrier that will not uptake fluorescein stain. In this photo, a large area of corneal ulceration is observed just right of center on the patient's eye globe. 

Examination of the eyes is an essential step when assessing the health of an avian patient. Complete examination of the eye requires dilation of the pupils to permit assessment of the posterior segment and the retina. Because both smooth and skeletal muscle function in control of the avian pupil, birds have some voluntary control over the size of their pupil. Additionally, the drugs that are typically administered to mammalian eyes to induce dilation will not get typical results when administered to a bird.

Rocuronium, a muscle-paralyzing drug, is currently being assessed by researchers in the CZAR lab for its ability to facilitate eye exams in the bird. Rocuronium can be deadly at high doses, mandating research into its ability to dilate the pupil when administered at small doses.