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9 August 2022 Ophthalmic Parameters and Ophthalmoscopy of Burrowing Owls (Athene cunicularia)
Katarina Bennett, Stephanie Osinchuk, Bianca Bauer, Sangeeta Rao, Miranda J. Sadar
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Twelve adult burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia) maintained in a managed environment underwent complete bilateral ophthalmic examinations to assess ocular parameters and, if present, describe lesions (n = 24 eyes). Tear production was measured with a Schirmer tear test (STT), and intraocular pressure (IOP) was measured with rebound tonometry using established calibration settings (D = dog/cat, P = other species). Retinography was performed for all birds after application of topical rocuronium bromide, and corneal diameter was measured. Menace response was absent bilaterally in 7 of 12 (58.3%) owls; however, this did not appear to be related to the presence of fundic lesions. Ocular lesions were visualized in 6 of 12 (50%) owls. The most common ophthalmic abnormality noted was mild multifocal fundic pigment clumping, suggestive of chorioretinal scarring. Other ocular lesions included 1 retinal tear and 1 incipient cataract. Mean tear production was 6.1 ± 3.0 mm/min. Mean IOPs were 11.6 ± 1.8 mm Hg and 7.1 ± 1.3 mm Hg for the D and P settings, respectively, and these were significantly different (P < 0.001). The IOP results did not differ significantly based on patient age or between the right and left eyes, but a higher mean was obtained from males versus females using the D setting (P < 0.039; male mean 12.1 ± 1.9 mm Hg; female mean 10.9 ± 1.2 mm Hg). Measurements obtained from the STT were not affected by either age or sex. Corneal height was 11 mm and width was 12 mm, regardless of age or sex. The rebound tonometer D setting is recommended for measuring IOP values in this species. Burrowing owls had inconsistent mydriasis following topical rocuronium bromide application to the eye; however, a complete fundic examination was possible with or without complete mydriasis.

© 2022 by the Association of Avian Veterinarians
Katarina Bennett, Stephanie Osinchuk, Bianca Bauer, Sangeeta Rao, and Miranda J. Sadar "Ophthalmic Parameters and Ophthalmoscopy of Burrowing Owls (Athene cunicularia)," Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery 36(2), 192-199, (9 August 2022).
Published: 9 August 2022
Athene cunicularia
burrowing owl
corneal diameter
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