Raptor Ophthalmology: The Ophthalmic Exam

Key Points

  • A complete ophthalmologic exam should be performed in all birds of prey admitted for medical attention.
  • Whenever possible, first observe the bird from a distance and thoroughly question the caretaker on food intake and flight habits.
  • All birds have some degree of striated muscle in their iris making the use of parasympatholytics (eg atropine tropicamide) ineffective. Fortunately pupils can usually be sufficiently dilated by simply darkening the room.
  • A slight degree of anisocoria can be a normal finding in raptors if the eyes are unevenly illuminated.
  • A true consensual pupillary light reflex is not detectable clinically.
  • Evaluate visual function and the bird’s ability to catch live prey before release back to the wild.

In many birds, the eye is the most important sensory organ, and even partial impairment of vision has far-reaching consequences. Unfortunately, ocular lesions are a common finding during ophthalmic examination in birds of prey . . .


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