By John McDevitt
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A big bird’s vision and quality of life is restored thanks to a partnership between the Philadelphia Zoo and Penn Vet.
Zookeepers noticed Princess, the 62-year-old Andean condor, wasn’t behaving like herself. She wasn’t flying and was eating less. It appeared her vision was impaired.
The large bird had cataracts in both eyes.
Dr. Brady Beale is Staff Ophthalmologist at Penn Vet’s Ryan Hospital. She says a large bird’s iris needs to be paralyzed for the cataract surgery.
“In these large birds, one drop of your typical paralytic agent, can kill a bird. So that’s what we put a ton of time in to researching. How we would dilute that medication so it would be safe. We ended up not having to use that paralytic agent I used something called viscoelastic which is a very thick, sticky substance that you inject into the eye and it dilates the pupil so I never had to use that drug,” said Dr. Beale.
Dr. Beale says cataract surgery in big birds has only been performed a handful of time in the United States.