Eye ulcer


Jan 3, 2016
My Coop
My Coop
My hen has a big swollen eye with a white look to it (pus?). I took her to the vet and he said it's an ulcer and that he wanted "about" $600 to remove her eye. I know from past experience that these vets charge like wounded bulls. I'm not prepared to spend that sort of money on one chicken (incidentally, she weighs about 500g, she's tiny, the amount of anaesthetic wouldn't be very much, I paid $300 to have a new knee put into my DOG, yes I know birds are a different kettle of fish than dogs, but still...)
I just want to confirm that there is no prospect of an ulcerated eye ever healing and that there is no alternative to euthanasia. Other than her "bung eye" she seems well in herself, acting normal, eating, etc.
(I don't trust this particular vet - I know from past dealings that money is their primary objective. I trust my other vet, but he doesn't do birds and I've already wasted a consultation fee on this guy... Trying to find a more reasonable bird vet is money I don't want to waste if there's no point)
I would try to treat it on my own if possible, although the chicken may be blind. Can you get any antibiotic or steroid ointment or eyedrops there? Ciprofloxacin is a good one, and dexamethasone is a good steroid. If you can find another vet who will just treat it, and not remove the eye, that may be less expensive. I had a hen that suffered blindness in one eye from injury, that got around fairly well in her familiar surrounding.

Do you think the ulcer was caused by ammonia odors in the coop, or from another cause? Just asking, because that is one cause of eye ulcers. Could you post a picture of her eye, just for our interest and experience?
No, we don't have free access to medications. They can only be dispensed by a vet. The "operation " vet said that treating it otherwise would need her to be going back and forth and they'd need to anaesthetise her to scrape it.
I've been in contact with a different vet for an estimate for surgery, so I'll see whether they come back with something more reasonable in which case, I might get a consultation to see whether conservative treatment is possible.
(it's not the first time I've had an issue with this vet. They quoted me for my rabbit to get sterilised and when I got there told me that it would really be a much higher fee than quoted... I took her to another vet and it was even less than the original quote.)
The other vet's didn't get back to me.... and today's a public holiday. :(

The swelling has reduced, her eye is now shut. It looks pretty much normal size, but shut. A photo at this stage isn't going to show how it was yesterday.

As for cause, I suspect an injury of some sort. The coop has good ventilation and they only sleep in there, the rest of the time they are out in the run, so I doubt any accumulation of gas would be a "thing" in their setup. She's the only one affected, and only one eye.

I just wish I knew what was going on. :(
An update for anybody who might come across this.
The swelling resolved, she had a white "blob" on her eyeball which has now fallen off/disappeared. When I bathed her eye with warm saline, it was "stuck on" before (some type of scab?). Her eye now looks cloudy, but it otherwise looks like a normal eye/normal size, no swelling. She's always seemed fine insofar as eating and drinking, and she seems ok now.

I'm still upset about the vet :( She's lucky to still be alive, no thanks to him. :( Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of avian vets (the regular vets can handle some things but it isn't "their thing", they mostly do dogs and cats, which is how you end up with vets who charge excessively) but I'll try to find another one I can go to should the need arise. It'll mean travelling.
thanks, micstrachan. She seems ok, I just hope she is.
(I just re-read my first post, it isn't clear that it was the vet who told me she'd have to be put down. He said there was no hope of recovering from her injured eye- 2 options, super-expensive surgery, or death.)
Thanks for the update, and I am glad that she has healed, but sad that her eye may be blind. I had a polish hen who got around fairly well in our large mixed flock after losing sight from a peck injury.

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