7 Parrot Eye Problems and What to Do About Them

Parrot Eye Problems

Parrot Eye Problems

Parrots and other birds have amazing eyes. Their eyes make all of the filters and editing options on your Iphone seem simple.  Just check out this video to learn about the complex features of birds eyes:



Just like you and I, birds can develop parrot eye problems.  What do you do if your bird has eye problems or discharge?

Parrot Eye Problems Often Need Medical Attention 

While parrot eye problems are usually quite painful, they are usually not imminently life threatening.  Never the less, we suggest that you take a trip to the vet within 24 hours whenever you spot parrot eye problems.  Why? because the underlying condition, such as conjunctivitis, sinusitis, mites, infection or other problems can progress fast and can be deadly.  Minor problems can become big problems quickly so get your bird to the vet ASAP.  Your goal is to prevent the condition from worsening and to prevent permanent blindness.

Take a good look at your birds’ eye when it is normal.  You’ll note a bright, clear eye-ball with open eye-lids and no discharge like the lovebirds eye on the left.

 parrot eye problems

This bird is has swelling around the nares a caused by Vitamin A Deficiency. This issue could quickly spread to the eyes.
Photo by Arizona Exotic Animal Hospital, Mesa AZ

Parrot Eye Problem Symptoms

  • Swollen or red eye-lids
  • Lids closed or partially closed
  • Increased blinking
  • Squinting
  • Excessive tearing, wet or dried discharge or even eyes matted shut
  • Cloudy cornea that is opaque or bluish in color
  • Rubbing the eye, beak or the side of the face on their wing or perch

How to get a good look at parrot eye problems

If you suspect parrot eye problems, take a closer look.Holding your birds head steady, like in the photo above, get a closer look.  It could be something caught in your birds eye.  See if you can get someone to help you capture your pet and carefully examine the affected eye area. These items from your bird first aid kit may be helpful.

  • Towel
  • Flashlight
  • Rubber gloves
  • Magnifying glass
  • Saline Solution
  • Cotton Balls

Put on sterile rubber gloves. Using a clean towel to gently restrain your bird a flash light and a magnifying glass (or magnifying app on your phone) to assist you in examine both of your bird’s eyes.

Gently capture your bird and restrain it holding the head steady with the effected eye up.  Using the flashlight and magnifying glass, look for any foreign object in the eye. Is there discharge from the eye? Do you notice swelling or redness? Compare the suspected eye with the other eye.  Sometimes, both eyes are affected.

Determine if the cornea is cloudy or opaque looking.  If so, take your bird to the veterinarian quickly.  Keep your bird out of drafts or direct sunlight until you can get medical treatment. Self-medicating with over the counter medications is not recommended  until your vet determines the cause of the eye problem.

If you don’t see any discharge, gently open the birds’ eye and look for a foreign body.  Foreign bodies like a seed husk can be painful. Flush the eye out well with sterile saline solution or eye wash.  You can use a syringe filled with sterile water if you don’t have eye wash available.  Gently open and close the eye lids to work the foreign body toward the corner of the eye or to make it more visible.  Once you see the foreign body, use a moistened cotton ball to gently wipe the item away. Be extremely careful not to scratch your birds’ eye.

You’ll want to get your bird to the veterinarian as soon as you suspect a parrot eye problem, preferably the same day, to avoid further vision deterioration.  You may moisten a cotton ball with saline solution to hold to the eye keeping moist while you transport your bird to the vet.

Four Common Health Issues That Can Affect Eyes:


Also known as avian tuberculosis, mycobacteriosis is a bacterial infection that is often difficult to treat and often proves fatal. Primary symptoms include weight loss and diarrhea. Some infected parrots develop eye masses and external and internal masses. Mycobacteriosis is transmissible to humans so always wear rubber gloves when treating or handling your sick parrot. Anyone who suffers from a compromised immune system should not handle the bird.


 Psittacosis, also known as chlamydiosis or parrot fever, might cause discharge from the eyes and nose. In addition, you may notice breathing difficulties, depression, and appetite loss. An otherwise chatty bird may become quiet and lethargic.  Isolate your bird from other birds in the household, follow doctors orders and administer medications and keep his surroundings as stress-free as possible. Please note that your vet may be required to report the disease to the authorities.


Salmonellosis, or an infection by some type of salmonella bacteria, primarily affects the intestines, but infected parrots might experience swollen eyelids or conjunctivitis. The latter is an inflammation of the eyelid's lining. Your vet will determine what type of salmonella is affecting your bird via a fecal sample. She'll then prescribe the appropriate antibiotics. Most parrots recover from salmonella infection.

Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD)

 Vitamin A deficiency in parrots is more common than you think and the symptoms are both alarming and miserable. All sized captive birds are prone to this disease. This highly treatable disorder is also highly preventable.  Affected parrots vitamin A in their diets display a variety of symptoms.  Swelling around the eye(s) from Vitamin A Deficiency is  known as a periorbital abscess. Secondary infections, usually respiratory and affecting the eyes, often occur because of the deficiency. You may also notice diarrhea, appetite loss, mouth abscesses, depression and tail-bobbing.

Seen in parrots on seed and nut diets, this painful disorder is correctable with a healthy diet such as Harrison's High Potency and supplements such as UnRuffledRx Red Palm Oilcan help prevent VAD.

parrot eye problems

Prevent parrot eye problems with UnRuffledRx Red Palm Oil


The conjunctiva is the membrane that lines the inside of the eye lid.  It occasionally gets inflamed or infected.  You’ll usually see a discharge when conjunctivitis is present.


Common in parakeets, finches, lovebirds, doves, canaries and pigeons the Knemidokoptes pilae or scaly face mite attacks a birds’ bare skin around the facial region.  You’ll see powdery grayish-white honey-comb looking tissue around the eyes, cere, beak, vent, feet and legs. Scaly mites can cause beak deformity if they are allowed to progress so get your bird to the vet for proper identification and instructions on how to control them or eradicate them.   If the beak becomes misshapen, then it will require periodic trimming for the rest of the bird’s life, most likely.


Larger birds tend to be more prone to sinusitis than smaller birds. Birds have a complicated sinus system whereby air sacs connect with the sinuses. Avian Sinus' can become infected from either injury or a respiratory infection. Anything that inflames the sinus' will also inflame the eyes. While the infection is usually bacterial, it can also be fungal in nature.  A bird with Sinusitis generally has swelling and / or discharge in one or both eyes.  The eyes can have so much gummy discharge that the eyes may be matted shut.  You’ll note a loss of appetite and fluffed appearance too.
Contact your avian vet if you suspect parrot eye problems.


Burkett, Greg. Avian First Aid: Be Your Bird's First Responder! DVD.

Hawcroft, Tim.  First Aid for Birds:  The Essential, Quick Reference Guide.  Howell Book House. 1994.




Join Facebook Group for Feather Plucking Parrots