Budgies have excellent vision, but they’re not exempt from eye problems, including blindness.
In fact, budgies are so good at hiding injury that they seem to go blind without warning. Sometimes, an owner is shocked to discover that a budgie was blind all along.
The best way to tell if a budgie is blind is by testing its ability to follow objects. You can perform this test by placing a familiar object in front of a budgie and checking if it follows the object’s movements.
Look for symptoms, such as losing balance, an aversion to fighting, and being easily spooked. The degree of blindness can vary from one blind budgie to another.
Blind budgies can lead normal lives, adapting to the change in vision.
The degree of blindness can vary from one blind budgie to another.
A budgie can be blind in one or both eyes and completely or partially blind. No matter the type of blindness your budgie has, it’ll adjust and lead a relatively normal life, albeit with certain limitations.
For example, you may have a budgie blind in one eye. Such budgies will adapt to their new life, although they’ll benefit from your accommodative behavior:
- Approaching only from the sighted side, to avoid spooking your budgie
- Providing food, water, and toys on the sighted side
- Start petting from the sighted side
Partial Blindness vs. Complete Blindness
There can be varying degrees of blindness.
A budgie that is partially blind will see the world with blurry vision. However, unlike completely blind budgies, they’ll still be able to see color and movement.
Partially blind budgies will have similar symptoms to budgies that are completely blind. However, expect these symptoms to manifest to a lesser degree.
Cataracts, which are the most common cause of partial blindness, can be easily identified. They’ll appear as a white or milky spot. If a budgie has a cataract, it’ll be partially blind in that eye.
Can Partial Blindness Lead to Complete Blindness?
Partial blindness can sometimes lead to complete blindness when due to an untreated infection.
If your budgie’s eye is infected, it is important to take it to a vet. When an infection isn’t treated, in some instances, it can eventually cause complete blindness in that eye.
Cataracts are one of the most common causes of partial blindness. However, cataracts may progress to affect the entire eye, causing complete blindness. So, cataracts are a common example of partial blindness that leads to complete blindness.
Whether or not a cataract will get worse will depend on the cause. Traumatic cataracts, which are cataracts caused by physical trauma to the eye, may remain stable, or not worsen over time. However, age-related cataracts often worsen with age.
According to Reviews in Veterinary Medicine, cataracts are common in older psittacine birds. Specifically, Amazon parrots, macaws, and cockatiels are more prone to developing cataracts than other species.
Cataracts can be treated with surgery. However, veterinarians may refuse to perform eye surgery on a budgerigar due to their small size.
Cataracts appear as a milky white film on the eye. If you suspect that your budgerigar is completely or partially, contact your vet to determine its cause. Preventive treatment will help preserve your budgie’s vision if the cataract is progressive or worsens over time.
How To Know If Your Budgie Is Blind
It can be difficult to determine if your budgie is blind, and it’s even harder if they’ve been blind since birth. Other than a few unusual behaviors, they’ll have adjusted to being blind and not show symptoms.
For these budgies, you’ll need to test their eye coordination. You can do this by taking an object your budgie is familiar with and holding it in front of them.
Then, slowly move the object left and right. Your budgie should follow the object. If it has trouble looking at or focusing on the object, it may have poor vision.
Aside from testing your budgie’s eye coordination, there are other signs that a budgie is blind:
1/ Flying Into The Bars of The Cage
Budgies that can’t see may bump into the bars of their cage, especially when playing. This will rarely cause injuries, but apply padding and avoid putting pointy objects inside the cage.
2/ Eating Problems
Blind budgies need to memorize the area where food and water are kept. If their food and water bowls are moved, they’ll have difficulty finding them.
Budgies that can’t see may also eat less because they cannot see their food. They’re even less likely to enter confrontations with budgies that steal their food.
3/ Staying in One Place
You may notice that your budgie has favorite spots in its cage. When it is out of the cage, you’ll notice that it prefers specific areas.
Your pet budgie may cycle through these different spots, but it won’t explore beyond these areas. This behavior may be due to blindness.
A budgie that can’t see will want to stay in a place where it knows it’s safe. Blind budgies will memorize these areas and will rarely venture out of them.
Younger, more inquisitive birds are more likely to venture out to interesting places. Budgies that are partially blind may also have more favorite spots.
4/ Aversion To New Places
A blind budgie will be confused and frightened by new areas.
Budgies that are blind are more likely to show unhappiness about being brought to a new spot. They’ll be more anxious, loud, or obstructive.
5/ Losing Balance
Losing balance is perhaps the most common symptom of blindness in budgies.
However, imbalance is a symptom in many illnesses that affect motor skills. It’s important to check off multiple symptoms before deciding your budgie has lost its vision.
6/ Landing Short of A Perch
Blind budgies will often land short of a perch. This might be more common in partially sighted budgies, as they try to reach a perch that they’re unfamiliar with.
7/ Aversion To Fighting
Budgies that are blind will rarely start or participate in fights. They’ll likely secede in a fight by bowing and backing away as they’re at a significant disadvantage.
8/ Easily Spooked
Budgies that are blind will be jumpier, easily scared, and more anxious.
You may notice that your budgie jumps more often at loud noises and becomes afraid whenever you approach it. Budgies that can’t see will be on higher alert as they’re at a disadvantage.
Also, they’ll develop more sensitive hearing to compensate for their lack of sight. Loud and shrill sounds will be more intense, so blind budgies will easily be spooked.
Since your budgie is blind, it may not hear you coming toward it. So, approach your budgie from the front or, if it is partially sighted, from its good-sighted side.
Also, talk to your budgie before touching it to ensure that it knows you’re nearby.
Are Albino Budgies Blind?
Albino animals of other species can experience vision problems, but not budgies.
Budgies won’t be more susceptible to medical conditions because they have albinism. The same can be said for lutino budgies, which have the gene that leads to albinism.
Both lutino and albino budgies are more sensitive to light than other varieties. This means that they may have trouble flying in rooms with bright light, so they may seem blind.
Can Blindness Be Reversed?
There’s currently no treatment that can reverse blindness in budgies.
However, if a budgie’s blindness was caused by diabetes or infection, you may be able to save the vision that remains. Discuss what can be done to preserve your budgie’s vision with a veterinarian.
Caring For A Blind Budgie
You can do many things to assist a blind or partially-sighted budgie, including the following:
- Add perches to both sides of the cage for ease of movement
- Keep objects, like toys and food bowls, in the same positions to avoid confusion
- Add padding to the bottom of the cage in case of falls
- Remove any sharp objects inside the cage to prevent cuts and abrasions
- Changing the texture of surfaces in the cage to serve as tactile cues
- Tapping on objects to inform a budgie of its location
As long as the cause has been addressed, blindness in budgies needn’t be life-limiting. Domesticated budgies will easily adapt to vision loss, and their other senses will grow stronger.