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Eye Injuries

Eye injuries can occur relatively commonly in chickens. Injuries to the eye can involve the eyelids, the bones surrounding the eye, and the eyeball itself. There are many different forms of eye injuries, which can be mild to severe. However, even in cases where trauma seems minor, every eye injury should be given immediate veterinary care. You may not be able to tell how bad the injury is just by looking at the chicken's eye.

Eye injuries in chickens occur when something comes into contact with a bird's eye and causes damage. An eye injury may occur during fighting among flock members, especially when multiple birds team up against an individual. Dirt, excessive dust, insect bites, sharp thorns, and even straw can injure a chicken's eye. Chickens can also run into or past a sharp object that injures their eye.

Signs of Eye Injuries in Chickens


If your chicken has an eye injury or other eye problem, there are several different signs you may see. Signs may be present in one or both eyes. The most common signs of eye injuries in chickens include the following:
  • Swelling of the eye
  • Excessive tearing
  • Bleeding from eye area
  • Sunken-in appearance of eye
  • Inability to open eye
  • Squinting or twitching of eyelid
  • Cloudiness or color changes to eye
  • Rubbing eye
  • Prolonged pupil dilation, constriction or other abnormal pupil appearance
  • Rapid blinking
  • Yellow or greenish discharge
  • Bloodshot or red appearance to the white part of eye
  • Redness of the mucous membranes around the eye
  • Asymmetrical appearance of eyes
  • Light sensitivity
A direct or indirect blow to the eye from another rooster's sharp spurs or from pecking with a sharp beak can cause a simultaneous laceration in addition to bleeding inside the eye from the force of the strike. The blood in the eye can cause increased intraocular pressure, which can result in permanent vision loss. Eye injuries can also progress very rapidly and are often quite painful.

The following are some of the most common eye injuries seen in chickens:
  • Corneal laceration: A cut or scratch to the eye surface.
  • Corneal ulcers: May be from debris.
  • Puncture: Often from a sharp spur, beak, tooth, claw, or foreign object.
  • Eyelid tear: Often from eye getting caught on something.

Treatment for Chicken Eye Injuries



If you think your chicken might have an eye injury, it's important to contact a veterinarian as soon as possible. Do not attempt to treat your bird's eye at home unless you are instructed to do so by a veterinarian.

Clinical Signs

Inability to open eye
Bleeding from eye area
Something embedded in the eye
Unusual pupil size or shape
Squinting or twitching of eyelid
Cuts to the eyelid
One eye sticks out
Something under the eyelid that cannot be easily removed
Light sensitivity
Cloudiness or color changes to eye
Swelling of the eye
Prolonged pupil dilation, constriction or other abnormal pupil appearance
Excessive tearing
Redness of the mucous membranes around the eye
Rapid blinking
Yellow or greenish discharge

Diagnosis

  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Eye exam

Treatment

NameSummary
Antibiotic eye drops/ointment
Surgical eye removal (enucleation)May be indicated in severe cases.

Support

Prevention

  • Do not mow the lawn or use a leaf blower near chickens
  • Closely monitor any introductions of new flock members or re-introductions of flock members who have been kept apart.

Scientific References

Risk Factors

  • Introduction of new bird into the flock or reintroduction of a flock member who has been kept separate.
  • Mowing the lawn or using a leaf blower anywhere near where chickens are.
  • Bullying among flock members