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Notes from Tiggywinkles: Saving a buzzard’s sight is to save its life

Another Buzzard with a healthy eye

Another Buzzard with a healthy eye

  • by Les Stocker, founder of St Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital in Haddenham
 

The eyes of a bird of prey are eight times more powerful than yours or mine.

It is vital that both their eyes are perfect. Without even one they would not be able to hunt and would soon starve to death.

Recently a very handsome buzzard was found struggling because one eye was covered with a white crud.

Our vets had never seen anything like it so I decided to call up an old friend, Dr David Williams, renowned ophthalmic surgeon at Cambridge vet school.

Sending through an image of our buzzard David described the condition as calcium plaque on the surface of the eye.

So rare was this problem that he had only seen one other case and that was 25 years ago. He could operate through microscopic surgery the fineness of which was mind boggling.

Katy, one of our veterinary nurses duly took said buzzard to Cambridge for ophthalmic surgery.

Painstakingly, through the microscope, the calcium plaque was removed leaving the cornea clear with the potential of the buzzard seeing again.

Then came the absolute magic of David’s surgical skills.

He spotted a weak spot on the birds cornea and performed a conjunctival pedicle graft wherein a minute piece of tissue was cut from inside the eyelid and fixed to the cornea with the minutest of stitches. Mind boggling.

The buzzard is now recovering, eating like a horse, at Tiggys.

We are a little bit chuffed that through our programme, and with David’s wonderful input, we might be able to get this buzzard off the ground.

The image here is of another buzzard with a very healthy eye.

 

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