Rosy the Crowned Eagle has not been improving as well as we hoped after two cataract operations. Dr. Dan Gradin, the ophthalmologist who did the operations, was going to be in Naivasha and he and Sarah Higgins had arranged a meeting on Saturday, January 24. Laila and I were able to meet them.
The last time I met Dan he was first in a floppy surgeon’s overalls, with mask and surgeon’s cap. After the surgery he morphed into a regular sort and took off on his heavy motorbike. On this occasion he was wearing a Scout Master’s uniform as he was in the middle of taking a number of children out camping.
We gathered up Rosy from his shed. Girl, his wife, was very distraught and hung from the roof. They both hate these examinations but it must be done.
The right eye, which looks the worst because of its torn pupil does see something. But it does not allow Rosy to see his perch properly or to fly up and sit with Girl. Last week we saw him take off from his perch and fly straight into a solid wall! The wall was fully lit, and surrounding it were deep shadows. If you squinted and pretended you were near blind you could understand that to him it might seem like open sky.
Rosy’s right eye
Dan had a look at this eye and tested its refraction by bouncing light from a special gadget off the back of the retina. He was able to measure the eye’s focus, and although he said it was slightly too long-sighted he was pleased with the result. The smoky fibrin goo that had obscured the lens had receded allowing a completely clear path. But it does seem that although the lens is clear the inability of the eye to see clearly stems from a damaged retina. This eye on two occasions had suffered from glaucoma, and on the first occasion it was very severe and we wondered at the time if the retina would be permanently damaged.
The left eye, with its neat round pupil was obscured by a fibrin coat. The pupil itself acts as a matrix close enough to allow the fibrin to cling to it and bridge the gap.
Dan had the tough job of telling us that he felt the chances of improving Rosy’s sight was very slim. About as much chance as finding oil off the Kenya coast.
Dan examining Rosy’s eyes
We released Rosy and he turned on us threateningly. He has guts!
Rosy may or may not undergo another operation. Dan first needs to communicate with some of his colleagues. What we do not want is to stress Rosy unnecessarily. If another operation will not improve his eyes then it makes no sense to try. The left eye might have a good retina. There are tests that can be done using a machine that measures retina function, but such a thing is not available in Kenya. If we knew the retina was OK then surgery to clear the lens would be advisable. It may be necessary to take Rosy to South Africa, or bring the necessary machines and technicians to Kenya.
Rosy remains enormously strong. He functions semi-normally in his huge shed. Girl is capable of breeding or even being released. Rosy cannot breed in this condition. We have discussed the idea of giving Girl her chance at a better life. But I am certain that if Girl goes out of Rosy’s life, he’ll have nothing to live for. Eagles mate for life, and although they will find a new partner if one dies, Rosy is likely to be confused and without much to do. We still have not given up hope.
If you love Rosy and Girl, Digg this story!