In Focus: Equine Eye Injuries

by | 05.01.2019 | 1:21pm

An equine eye injury always warrants a call to the veterinarian, whether it looks serious or not; at times an eye issue may not seem serious, but it can quickly escalates into a massive issue, which could include loss of vision in the affected eye.

Horses are hardwired for stoicism, so they may not let on how painful an eye injury truly is. If an eyelid or the tissues around it are swollen, or if the horse is blinking repeatedly, reluctant to walk into bright sunlight or if his eyes look like asymmetrical, something may be amiss. Additionally, discharge from the eye, repeated rubbing, cloudiness or sudden shying are also cause for concern and warrant investigation.

Common eye injuries include:

  • Horses with a foreign object trapped in their eye will have eyes that water profusely. The eyelids will occasionally swell shut and the horse will be reluctant to have his eyes examined. A veterinarian will remove the object, flush the eye and look for anything that might cause corneal ulceration.
  • Corneal scratches, which often occur from an object becoming trapped under the eyelid, can cause ulcerations of the eyeball. Horses with corneal issues will be extremely sensitive to light; if an ulcer has begun to form, the horse will be in obvious discomfort and reluctant to open the eye at all. A veterinarian will flush the eye and then dye it to see if an ulcer is present; if one is there, it may be treated either with topical medications or with a catheter that delivers the medication to the surface of the cornea.
  • Orbital bone fracture from blunt force trauma, either from striking the head on an object or being kicked by another horse. Severe swelling occurs with a fracture to the orbital bone. A veterinarian will take X-rays to determine the extent of the damage; stall rest or surgery may be required.
  • Lacerated eyelids can happen on anything from structures to tree branches. Often the eyelid is sutured back together, but follow up vet visits are often in order.

Read more at EQUUS.

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