Cataracts in hens eyes


In the Brooder
10 Years
Mar 12, 2009
Has anyone had something like a cataract or a cloudy eyed hen? My first batch of chickens a year ago had a blind RIR within a few months. Now all of my RIR's are blind in at least one eye. The others bought at the same time (black stars and Arucaunas) haven't had blindness. Now, I have blind Anconas in the chicks I got in October (the buffs, Wyandetts and Aracaunas in that bathc have fine eyesight). Any ideas?
Thanks, Mooychicken! I don't seem to be getting any other ideas. I have checked the coop for dangerous spots, but they are free ranging, so I can't imagine. It seems like genetics play a role, since it is isolated to the two different breeds. But I worry about it being contagious since the second batch got them. You suppose I should CULL those with cataracts? Gosh, that's unthinkable, but I don't want some bug in there!
Thanks for your input! I read the Merck site and (thankfully) it doesn't sound like what my hens have. This cloud is in their black pupil area, not the iris area. No other signs of this disease. It is still confined to the Rhode Islands and the Anconas. I am so confused. I have been tryinf to supplememnt them within lutein laden foods (tomatoes) and that doesn't seem to be doing anything for the already blind girls,but maybe it will prevent further.

What about LIGHT SENSITIVITY? These girls all prefer the shady side of the coop or even to stay inside and roost all day. They don't seem physically lethargic or ill in any other way.
I did a search for "blind chickens" on the Internet. It can be genetic and is not harmful for the chickens. I probably would not want them free-ranging as they would not know to get away from predators.

One paper I read said that blind chickens are great for those that have a small space for chickens. Additionally, they tend to lay more eggs than their seeing counterpart.

I don't know if you have an area in which they can be contained but sounds like it would be better for them to be contained, safety-wise.

Note: A health care provider might interpret the paper differently; however, it was written in pretty clear language.
Ruling out ocular Marek's for sure would be a good idea, having one sent to your state path lab would be a relatively low cost way to do this if you have a spare symptomatic chicken. If it not Marek's and you have this happening in many chickens from different genetic backgrounds/breeds/sources- likely it is not genetic/heritable. Possibly from something in the environment. If it is just happening in one breed or hatching group- maybe genetic/heritable cataracts. I would say, it is Marek's until proven otherwise. It CAN appear as an iris color change, but the virus causes an infiltrate in all of the eye structures, so if you are seeing a cloudy area in the eye or a color change in part of the eye- you need to rule out Marek's.
If you have a local poultry extension agent, try contacting them. If you can bring one bird to a knowledgeable avian specialty vet, that would also be a option.
Do they have puddles of rain water that they can drink out of? If there drinking out of contaminated water, could have caused an eye infection.My hens will dip there head in to far and water gets in there eyes.
That's a good point! But ocular Marek's Disease causes red-bay irises to turn gray, not cloudy, that's why it's called "Gray Eye." Good news is that birds usually recover from ocular Marek's Disease. Just watch out for the ones that go insane... some will. They'll start acting wacky. Nothing wrong, just concerning to see a normally mellow bird freak out of its mind over a leaf.
I did take them to a vet after I found this site on the internet;

course, I for got to bring that paper in with me. He took fecal samples, but had no idea what it could be. This site say that you can vaccinate against it, but my question him was with what and how much?

Do they recover from Marek's without any intervention or is that also something that I should vaccinate for?

I don't really have any hens that I can sacrifice to a lab, but on the other hand, if this is going to wipe out my flock, I guess I should go that direction.

I like the information on the blind chickens! It sounds much less scary! They are good layers, I think. I don't have trap nests.

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom