Speed Reads

breakthroughs

Bird's sight restored in first-ever falcon cataract surgery

A falcon in New Hampshire can see again, thanks to a first of its kind surgery that restored her vision by removing cataracts and implanting synthetic lenses.

Banner, a four-year-old lanner falcon, lost her sight two years ago, and wasn't able to hunt or fly. Her owners, Nancy and Jim Cowan of the New Hampshire School of Falconry, wanted to fix that, but weren't sure if it would be possible. "When we first started looking for help, we heard a lot of anecdotal, 'Well, it can't be done,'" Jim told the Concord Monitor.

It took a team of individuals from around the world to make it happen. A Canadian ophthalmology supply manufacturer, I-Med, donated the six-millimeter-wide lenses, which were created by designers in Germany, California, Abu Dhabi, Ohio, and Montreal. A veterinary ophthalmologist and surgeon donated their time for the hour-long surgery, in which Banner was put under, her corneas cut, the cataracts removed, and artificial lenses placed.

Now, Banner just needs to take anti-inflammatory eye drops to ensure her eyelids don't become irritated by her cornea sutures. Already, the Cowans have noticed her respond to things like a tassel moving in front of her. "You can see something all right," Jim told her. "You can see something."