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Your horse’s eye health Ask The Vet

by daniel h. grove, dvm T

he eyes are extremely important to our equine companions. If we lose one or both eyes, it can be career-end-

ing for our animals. Signs of eye discomfort are blepharospasm (squinting), tearing of the eye, rubbing of the eyes, and changes in the normal appearance of the eyes. This month

A monthly column by Daniel H. Grove, DVM

Got a question for Dr. Grove? Send your inquiries to vet@horsetrader. com, and it could be answered by Dr. Grove in a future column. Dr. Grove is based at West Coast Equine Medicine, headquartered in Fallbrook, Calif. , where he lives with his wife Kristen.

pages back-to-back, all eyelid lacerations. If treated promptly, most can be sutured. If no tissue is lost, oſt en times full function returns and there is lit le to no cosmetic defect. I usually give some sedation, locally anesthetize the skin and repair the lacer- ation. A tetanus vaccine update and some antibiotics are oſt en the only other medica- tions needed.

Uveitis The uvea is the back part of the eye itself. Some breeds are more prone to the con- dition, but it is thought that an infectious agent causes the disease, although it cannot always be proven. This area in the eye gets very infl ammed and can fi ll with pus. These conditions are very painful and can cause signifi cant blepharospasm (squinting) and tearing of the eye. The eyes can get a bulging appearance to them and they can appear yel- lowed. These are many ways these are treat- ed, but anti-infl ammatories are very import- ant to reduce the swelling and discomfort.

I will discuss some of the more common eye ailments I see and some tips on what can be done. Before we proceed, I feel I should mention that most eye problems should be seen sooner rather than later. Waiting can be devastating on some of these problems.

Eyelid Lacerations Eyelid lacerations are extremely common. One Friday evening, I had three emergency

Habronemiasis With this condition, fl ies land in the cor- ners of the eyes and can deposit the eggs or larvae of one of the stomach worms of horses. This parasite can fester and cause a non-healing wound in the eye. Oſt en times, I fi nd small granules that have formed. These granules and lesions can be very irritating to the eye. Removal of these granules and

lesions along with topical steroids and systemic ivermectin usually can get these resolved. Sometimes, multiple visits as the granules continue to migrate to areas that can be accessed are required.

Corneal Ulcers The cornea is the clear outer layer of the

eyeball. It can regenerate quickly, as fast as 24 hours. If it gets damaged, an ulcer, or eroded area, can form. Trauma from an external source is the most common cause. These can be very painful, cause signifi cant tearing, and change the color and appear- ance of the eye. They are usually easy to diagnose on an ophthalmologic exam with a special stain. The stain highlights the ulcer to make it clearly visible. They can become infected with bacteria or fungi. They are usually treated with antibiotics or antifun- gals, anti-infl ammatories, and atropine. It is very important to not put any eye medi- cations with a steroid in these. The steroids can make them worse and more diffi cult to treat.

These four conditions are the most com-

mon eye problems I see. With the exception of habronemiasis, they should all be seen quickly to get them under control and have the best chance for a positive outcome. Each veterinarian will have their own way to treat these conditions, so if you notice something awry, contact them right away!


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