Horses have the biggest eye of all land mammals, and injuries can affect training and quality of living.
Performance organizations have established standards for the amount of vision required to ensure horse welfare and safety.
Eye examinations are important when buying a horse, but also when preventing vision loss.
Normal eyes are clear and open.
Your vet can help you if your horse has a problem with his eyes, such as discharge, cloudiness, or squinting.
Glaucoma refers to an increase in pressure within your eye that can cause irreversible damage.
Glaucoma, which is also known as vision-threatening glaucoma, is an emergency that can cause blindness. The posterior chamber is where the fluid in the eye is stored. Pressure builds up in the eye when the fluid is not able to drain properly.
Glaucoma can cause severe pain and is often described as a throbbing headache. Glaucoma can sometimes be genetically inherited and can be confirmed by an additional test, gonioscopy, to determine if your pet is at risk of developing glaucoma.
Trauma, tumors, and displaced lenses are all possible causes. In order to control intraocular pressure (IOP), and maintain comfortable, vision, and/or cosmetic eyes, immediate and sometimes long-term treatment is necessary.
A good Vet offers and can recommend many surgical options, depending on the severity, species, age, and other medical conditions.
General anesthesia can be used to perform a variety of surgical procedures, including an intrascleral prosthesis or artificial eye. Sometimes complete enucleation is required.
Each option has its own pros and cons, and each case is unique.
A cataract is a cloudiness in the lens that reduces the light that can enter the eye. This causes vision to be blurred.
One can have a juvenile cataract in a horse’s birth or a cataract that develops in an adult horse from inflammation or trauma. Treatment will depend on the size and type, as well as the horse’s performance.
Medication cannot fix or dissolve a cataract. However, a topical medication can be used to reduce inflammation and pain.
Some cataracts can also be removed and the lens can be replaced in a similar fashion to how it is done in humans.
If you are interested in breeding, cataracts could be genetic.
Vision may be affected by trauma to the eyelids and lumps around the eye. Normal vision relies on the eyelids to protect the eyes and help tears from spreading across the cornea.
Horses may cause eyelid lacerations by rubbing their heads on a bucket or fence. Lacerations that are treated promptly by a veterinarian can be healed with little scarring.
It is possible for the eyelids to become too damaged to be reassembled. This could cause long-term damage.
Although small lumps around the eye might appear benign at first, they may be harmless later. Sarcoids, a common equine cancer, can be found anywhere on horses. They initially appear as small raised lumps.
Periocular sarcoids can grow around the eyes, obscuring vision. They are usually more difficult to treat than other sarcoids.
Trauma can also cause eyelid lacerations. An example of a trauma-related eyelid tear is the classic case. It occurs when the horse “catches his eyelids on a hook-shaped object, such as the “J” on a bucket handle).
After checking for eye problems, the veterinarian will usually administer local anesthesia to the horse and prepare the skin. Then, the veterinarian will repair the laceration.
The following care usually involves the use of systemic anti-inflammatories as well as antibiotics. The prognosis for this condition is excellent if it is treated quickly.
Common conditions are uvulas and scratches on the eye’s surface. They can be caused by rubbing or grass seed scratches.
It may heal quickly if the ulcer is small.
The ulcer may get inflamed and cause the eye to look blue if it is more severe. If left untreated, eye ulcers can quickly turn into a serious emergency, causing a descemetocele or melting ulcer.
Melting ulcers are serious conditions that occur when bacteria or fungi infect the outer layer of the eye. The eye attempts to heal the infection by removing the affected tissue.
The delicate eye’s surface is destroyed by this self-destruction.
These ulcers can rupture (rupture) within 24 hours. They are an emergency. Descemetocele refers to a deep ulcer that is close to rupturing. The descemetocele is not usually painful because there aren’t many nerves deep within the eye. It may be overlooked or even seen when the eye is healing.
These eye injuries may require extensive medical treatment or surgery to save the eye. They can cause scarring on the eye’s surface or deeper inside the eye.
Eye ulcers can be treated with a variety of products, from topical ointments to reduce infection and pain relief to surgical corneal transplants.
Deep ulcers, like those on other parts of your body, need to be free from infection and given adequate blood supply in order to heal. A subpalpebral lace (SPL) is a method of medical support that involves the application of topical ointments to the eye every few hours.
An SPL tube allows the medication to be delivered to the eyes without having to open the eyelids. Medical treatment is intended to reduce infection and provide pain relief.
Blood vessels must grow from the edge to the ulcer in order for the ulcer to heal. A deep ulcer in the middle of the eye will heal faster than one near the edge because blood vessels can only move at a rate of approximately 1mm per day.
A conjunctival transplant provides blood supply to the injured eye, which can speed up healing. Grafts can also be used to support the eye and decrease the chance of it rupturing.
Conjunctivitis is another common problem. Conjunctiva refers to the mucous membrane that covers the inner eyelids and white portion of the eyes.
Conjunctivitis can be diagnosed by ocular discharge, redness, and swelling.
Allergies and insect hypersensitivity are two possible causes. These can be treated using anti-inflammatories and antihistamines as well as environmental modifications.
ERU can be a recurrent autoimmune condition that begins with an eye injury.
ERU is more common in Warmblood and Appaloosa breeds than in Warmblood. However, the cause of the condition is not known. ERU can affect one or both eyes. The eye may appear painful, squinting or closed. A discharge may also be present.
The eye is usually blue because of inflammation. Usually, an ulcer is not found. Repeated episodes of inflammation and pain can cause the lens to luxate or become a cataract.
Uveitis treatment is different from treating an eye ulcer. It is important that you do not apply ointments to an eye without first consulting your veterinarian.
Surgical implants were used to reduce recurrent episodes and allow horses to compete within FEI guidelines regarding medication withdrawals.
What should you do if your horse has sore eyes?
Talk to your Equine Veterinarian if you have concerns about your horse’s eye contact. Avoid putting creams or drops into the eyes while you wait for your veterinarian.
You can clean the area around your eyes with distilled water, or very dilute Iodine.
You can also use a fly mask to reduce irritation while your veterinarian examines the eye.
Equine eye problems/conditions can include heritable, age-related, or immune-mediated conditions or post-traumatic injuries to any eye structure, eyelids, or surrounding tissue.
These issues can often be accompanied by discomfort or a loss of vision. This can then interfere with the horse’s daily activities and affect their quality of life.
Ocular problems can happen at any age in a horse’s lifetime. Certain breeds of horses are more likely to experience certain conditions than others, but no breed is immune from the possibility of developing an ocular problem.
Early diagnosis and treatment of many equine diseases are crucial for maintaining healthy, beautiful eyes.