Man blinded while trying to help bird

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The Independent Online

A man has been blinded in one eye after an injured bird he went to assist pecked his eyeball out of its socket.

Michael Buckland spent three days being treated by eye specialists after a gannet pierced his eyeball on a beach holiday in South Wales.

The 38-year-old, from Cardiff, has been told the chances of him regaining sight in his right eye are "very slim".

Mr Buckland was on holiday at Gower near Swansea with his girlfriend when they spotted the injured seabird.

He scooped it under his arm to take it to higher ground, away from the incoming tide.

But the animal panicked when it saw a family in the distance with a dog, subsequently lashing out at Mr Buckland.

He said: "I was only trying to save it but it began attacking me in fright.

"I had a flap of skin on the top of my nose and a big gash across the top of my nose. I then put my right hand to my face and I felt there was a big hole where my eye was meant to be.

"My eye was hanging out and I had to put it back in on the beach. I didn't feel it was there until I felt it at the side."

He was rushed to Singleton Hospital in Swansea, where he had 11 stitches across his eyeball which doctors managed to replace and his right eyelid was sewn up.

Mr Buckland has been told he will not be able to work as a welder again.

He added: "The surgeon said it pecked me about three times. Its beak went through the centre of my eyeball.

"My eyelid was ripped off on my left eye. But if I didn't blink in time, I would have lost that eye as well.

"All I can see through my bad eye now is a bright light. I can see bright colours and bright lights, but that's it.

"They said I've got to have an operation in four months time - they are going to take the stitches out and see about another operation to try and get my sight back but they said the chances are very slim."

Bird charity the RSPB said the incident involving Mr Buckland was "extremely rare".

A spokesman added: "If it is absolutely necessary to handle a wild animal, you should do so with extreme caution.

"But we would recommend that if you see an injured animal, you report it to the RSPCA."