Choroidal Vasculopathy and Retinal Detachment in a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) with Lead Toxicosis

Ramzi Eid, David Sanchez Migallon Guzman, Krista A. Keller, K. Tomo Wiggans, Christopher J. Murphy, Elise E.B. Ladouceur, M. Kevin Keel, Christopher M. Reilly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A subadult Male bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) was presented for severe depression and weakness. Physical examination findings included depressed mentation, dehydration, sternal recumbency, poor body condition, and bilateral, whole-head, horizontal nystagmus. A heavy-metal panel was performed, and blood lead levels were 6.1 ppm. Treatment for lead poisoning was initiated, including subcutaneous fluids and parenteral calcium-disodium ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid, ceftiofur, and meloxicam. Ophthalmic examination findings included absent menace response, absent dazzle reflex, slow and incomplete direct pupillary light reflex, mild anterior uveitis, incipient cataracts, multifocal retinal tears, and retinal separation in both eyes. Because of poor prognosis for vision and release to the wild, the eagle was euthanatized. No lesions were observed on gross postmortem examination. Histologically, extensive myocardial necrosis and multisystemic arteriolar vasculopathy were identified. The eyes were examined after tissue processing, and the vasculopathy extended into the choriocapillaris and was associated with a secondary, bilateral, exudative, retinal detachment. This is the first report in avian species characterizing the histopathologic ocular lesions of lead poisoning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-363
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of avian medicine and surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Avian
  • Bald Eagle
  • Haliaeetus Leucocephalus
  • Ophthalmology
  • Plumbism
  • Raptor
  • Vasculitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Small Animals


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