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Eye Disorders

There are a number of different eye disorders that commonly affect chickens. They can be due to an eye injury or an eye infection---which can be caused by a virus, bacteria, or fungus.

Types of Eye Disorders



  • Conjunctivitis
    - Otherwise known as 'pink eye'. It is the irritation and inflammation of the conjunctiva (the inner eyelid membrane) of the eye. It is usually caused by bacteria but can also develop from from trauma, exposure to irritants in the air or foreign bodies in the eye, parasites, or related to a viral infection. Conjunctivitis can also occur as a secondary complication from a respiratory infection, systemic illness, and other eye disorders.
  • Cataracts- Chickens most commonly develop cataracts as a result of a viral infection related to Avian Encephalomyelitis (AE), or Marek's disease. The risk of them getting cataracts increases when fed a vitamin deficient diet or from continuous exposure to some artificial lights.

Clinical Signs

Eye discharge
Swollen eyelids
Eye redness
Tightly closed eyelids
Aversion to bright light
Tears
Constant blinking
Crusting over eyelid
Impaired vision

Diagnosis

  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Eye Exam

Treatment

NameSummary
Supportive careIsolate the bird from the flock and place in a safe, comfortable, warm location (your own chicken "intensive care unit") with easy access to water and food. Limit stress. Call your veterinarian.
Ophthalmic drops or ointments (topical aminoglycoside antibiotics)Administered into the affected eye(s)
AntibioticsMay be needed to avoid secondary infections, especially in ruptured eyes.

Support

Prevention

  • Observe flock behavior daily---to look for any signs of (even seemingly small) aggression towards other flock members, as it can quickly escalate to an eye injury, loss of an eye, and even death.
  • Provide shelter that is large enough for all flock members to go in during strong storm events, as high wind can increase the risk of sand and other substrate particles blowing in the birds' eyes.
  • Do not allow large concentrations of dust to accumulate in chicken coops by dusting regularly (however making sure that no chickens are present in the area while dusting or sweeping).
  • Be mindful when mowing the lawn or when using landscaping tools while in the vicinity of the chickens.

Scientific References

Risk Factors

  • Fights among flock members
  • Multiple roosters living together with a small female to male ratio (need more girls and more space!)
  • Overcrowding
  • Windy days
  • Mowing the lawn and use of landscaping equipment around chickens
  • High accumulations of dust