Parrots live for a long time, and just like people, they can develop many age-related health problems as they get older. As your parrot ages, they may develop cataracts, a sight-threatening eye condition. Here are four things you need to know about cataracts.
Why do parrots get cataracts?
Birds develop cataracts as a natural consequence of their aging process, just like people do. As your parrot ages, the tissues that make up the lenses of their eyes break down, and then clump together. These clumps form small, clouded areas on the lens, but over time, the clumps will get bigger, and so will the cataracts.
What are the signs of cataracts?
Cataracts cause decreased vision and eventually blindness, but if they develop gradually, your parrot may adapt to their vision changes without showing many obvious signs.
If your parrot's vision changes quickly, or if they become completely blind, you may notice that they have trouble finding their food bowl or water bottle, especially if their cage has been rearranged. Another clue that your parrot is losing their vision is them not reacting to your presence until you speak to them or make other noises.
Since the signs of vision loss are fairly easy to miss, it's a good idea to have your parrot's eyes screened regularly. During these screenings, your vet will examine your parrot's eyes to see if the lenses are getting thicker or cloudier. Older parrots should have their eyes examined at least once a year.
Are cataracts serious?
Cataracts are not a major problem for captive parrots. In the wild, cataracts would leave them unable to find food or escape predators, but in your care, cataracts are mostly just a cosmetic problem. To make your parrot more comfortable, announce your presence before handling them to avoid scaring them, and avoid rearranging their cage.
Can veterinarians treat cataracts?
Your veterinarian can surgically remove your parrot's cataracts in severe cases. This surgery takes between 45 and 60 minutes, and your bird will be anesthetized for the procedure. Once the cataracts are removed, artificial lenses are not implanted. This means that your pet's vision won't be as sharp as it was before they had cataracts, and they'll probably be far-sighted. However, this vision still represents an improvement from their pre-surgery vision.
If you think your parrot has cataracts, take them to a local animal clinic like North Lexington Veterinary Clinic right away for an eye examination.