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Eye Injuries

Ocular Trauma

Eye injuries can occur relatively commonly in ducks and other waterfowl. 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 duck's eye.

Eye injuries in ducks occur when something comes into contact with the bird's eye and causes damage. An eye injury may occur during fighting among flock members, especially when a rooster with sharp spurs is involved. Dirt, excessive dust, insect bites, sharp thorns, and even straw can injure a duck's eye. Ducks can also run into or past a sharp object that injures their eye.

Signs of Eye Injuries in Ducks

If your duck 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 ducks include:
  • 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 ducks:
  • 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 Duck Eye Injuries

If you think your duck 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.


Inability to open eye
Bleeding from eye area
Something embedded in the eye
Unusual pupil size or shape
Squinting or twitching of eyelid
Light sensitivity
Cloudiness or color changes to eye
Excessive tearing
Eye redness
Rapid blinking
Eye discharge


  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Eye exam


MethodMethod Summary
Supportive careIsolate the bird from the flock and place in a safe, comfortable, warm location (your own duck "intensive care unit") with easy access to water and food. Limit stress. Call your veterinarian.
Topical aminoglycoside antibioticsto prevent secondary infection; drops are preferred to avoid risk of bedding and other materials from sticking to the eye area.
Surgical eye removal (enucleation)May be indicated in severe cases.


  • Minimize exposure to sharp and/or protruding objects within duck enclosures
  • Provide shelter that is large enough for all flock members to go inside during strong storm events, as high wind can increase the risk of sand and other substrate particles blowing in their eyes.
  • Do not allow large concentrations of dust to accumulate in the environment where ducks are kept. Dust regularly (however making sure that no ducks are present while your dusting or sweeping).
  • Be mindful when your mowing the lawn or when using landscaping tools that your ducks are not nearby.
  • Be mindful of keeping roosters and ducks in the same enclosure. Make 100% sure that they get along and that the rooster is completely submissive to the ducks.



Risk Factors

  • Overcrowding
  • Windy days
  • Mowing the lawn and use of landscaping equipment
  • High accumulations of dust
  • Disagreements among flock members