With the significant help of our favorite veterinary ophthalmologist, the late Dr. Paul Jackson, along with our favorite human ophthalmologist, Dr Art Giebel, we removed a cataract from a Macaw.

Before we get on to this surgery, we would like to show you a picture of a beautiful wild Macaw that Dr. P took on a recent trip to Costa Rica. If you click on the photo you can see more about how he teaches wildlife photography around the world.

Macaw flying by in Costa Rica

This page has graphic surgical pictures.

Pre-anesthetic Preparation

The first step in the process is a thorough physical exam. This is performed immediately prior to surgery.

Macaw undergoing an exam by one of our doctors

This young Macaw is enjoying the attention he is getting during his exam

Dr. R examining a peregrine falcon from our Wildlife Care Program

No matter what type of bird, all of them are given a thorough exam prior to surgery. This is a peregrine falcon from our Wildlife Program.

We also perform pre-anesthetic diagnostic tests prior to surgery to make sure there are no internal problems.

Avian CBC checking red and white blood cells

This part of the pre-anesthetic blood panel checks the red and white blood cells. It is called a CBC


Birds tend to be more sensitive to anesthesia than most mammals, so special precautions are taken to minimize the risk.

Anesthetized macaw ready for surgery

We use general anesthesia because this is delicate surgery and there can be no movement of our patient

Anesthetic monitor showing heart and respiratory rates
We use special monitoring equipment during surgery
Nurse anesthetist monitoring a bird under anesthesia
Our nurse anesthetist also stays hands-on during avian surgeries


In addition to the substantial surgical expertise of our surgeons, this surgery is not possible without special equipment, especially a dual surgical microscope.

Patient anesthetized and in the surgery suite
Our patient is anesthetized and ready for surgery
Our patient is draped with warm water bottles to prevent hypothermia
Our patient is draped with warm water bottles to prevent hypothermia
Dr. Jackson looking through the ophthalmic microscope
Dr. Paul and Dr. Art work together as a team during the surgery


A microscopic incision is literally made into the eye near the cornea. The cataract is emulsified just like in people. A new lens is not put in, unlike in people.

Cutting into the cornea to get to the lens

Injecting gel to keep the globe inflated
Increasing the size of the opening in the cornea
Removing the cataract with a special instrument
Suctioning out any debris from the eye
Suture the incision in the cornea

Our surgery team, from left to right-
Art Giebel, MD
Carl Palazzolo, DVM
Paul Jackson, DVM
Veterinary ophthalmologists
Bird with collar placed on neck
Our patient ready to go home with his Elizabethan collar
Post operative view of the healed eye
A healed eye
If you would like to see a surgery on how we removed a cataract from a great horned owl it can be seen on our Wildlife Care Page.  The lens had a cataract from trauma, and needed to be removed because it was causing inflammation and pain.
Photo of Dr. P and staff holding owl after eye surgery
Our patient and surgery team while the owl was still waking up from anesthesia
Return to the Avian Diseases Page