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Last Updated: Monday, 11 February 2008, 19:41 GMT
Eagle eye restored by operation
Electra the eagle
Electra would have been put down if her sight was not saved

A golden eagle who was blinded after flying into an electricity pylon has had her vision partially restored by a ground-breaking operation.

Electra the eagle lost her sight when she developed cataracts after flying into the pylon as she tried to escape attack from crows on Mull.

A Glasgow University vet carried out the first cataract operation ever performed on a golden eagle.

The operation restored the sight in one of Electra's eyes.

Golden eagles are famed for their eyesight, which allows them to spot their prey from enormous distances and swoop down with great accuracy.

She responded to sound but not to movement. We checked her eyes and she had cataracts
Sue Dewar
Wings Over Mull

Without her sight, Electra had no quality of life and faced being put down.

She was taken to the Wings Over Mull sanctuary after being badly burned by the electric shock from the pylon.

Sue Dewar, of Wings Over Mull, said: "I started trying to move things in front of her to see whether she was aware of them and there was absolutely no recognition of movement at all.

"She responded to sound but not to movement. We checked her eyes and she had cataracts."

Veterinary eye specialist George Peplinski, from Glasgow University's vet school, agreed to attempt to remove the cataracts.

Retinal damage

It is considered very risky to put birds under general anaesthetic as the shock often kills them.

But in the ground-breaking operation, Mr Peplinski succeeded in restoring the sight to one of Electra's eyes.

However, he concluded it was not worth operating on the second eye after discovering it had suffered retinal damage.

He said: "With such a small chance of any improvement I don't think it is justified. We have done the eye that we know is the healthiest and we are best just leaving it there and not risking a prolonged anaesthetic and a prolonged recovery."

With her eyesight now present but not perfect, Electra cannot survive in the wild so has now joined a male with a broken wing in Wings Over Mull.

Staff at the sanctuary hope the pair will eventually breed.



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