How To Diagnose And Treat Equine Eye Injuries
 By Ghost   •   20th Apr 2011   •   7,773 views   •   12 comments
Equine Eye InjuriesPowerful, sinuous and of unparalleled speed, stamina and agility, it is always daunting to remember how equally delicate and sensitive a horse can actually be. I was reminded of this duality quite recently when my accident-prone thoroughbred decided to hit his eye on something. It is always a stomach-dropper when you approach the pasture and your beloved friend is limping, slow to move or only looking at you with one eye.

Here is what I have learned in the past week in relation to eye injuries and uveitis:

Uveitis is an intraocular inflammation, with signs and symptoms including “increased tearing, squinting, and/or redness and/or swelling of the conjunctiva, and/or cloudiness. Other clinical signs which can be present: misshapen pupil, small pupil (miosis), or a mass inside the eye.” Uveitis is also most common in Appaloosas.

These signs and symptoms can be associated with trauma to the eye, and accompanied by swelling around the orbital bone, and possibly a scrape or cut that might help in identifying the cause of the injury.


Diagnosis includes sedation of the horse and the application of an optical solution that actually numbs the eye so that a dye can be applied and the actual lens of the eye can be inspected for damage like scratches or punctures. The eye (lens) changes from orange to green in the presence of a scratch or puncture.

Further assessment includes the use of a pen light and judging the pupil’s response to light. If function is preserved, the pupil should constrict (get smaller) in the presence of light. Horses with suspected Uveitis might also have a blood test done, or a titer drawn, which will tell the vet if Uveitis-causing bacteria are present in their blood.


Once a possible cause for the inflammation of the eye is identified, treatment can begin. This typically will involve the administration of a systemic anti inflammatory and pain reliever (will travel through the whole body, but will target area sending out inflammation signals) like banamine, and eye drops. The eye drops are usually a corticosteroid, which acts to actually decrease the body’s inflammatory response. Sometimes the body does too good of a job--like with pet or plant allergies, and needs help knowing when to stop reacting. The other drops that might be used are those that cause the eye to dilate.

My vet informed me that this is needed so that the iris (colored portion of the eye) does not become stuck to the lens (clear outer layer of the eye) in the process of healing. These drops help the eye to function where it normally can’t and increase the possibility of a full recovery by causing the iris to move.


The last component is keeping the horse quiet and to rest the eye. This can include stable rest in a dark environment, or at the very least, an eye patch. The easiest way I found to do this is to tape a square of felt to a fly mask, essentially blinding the horse on the affected side. Treatment usually lasts for about a week during blunt or penetrating trauma, and longer with diagnosed Uveitis, since this condition is recurrent. Other instances might require surgery, and your vet can often determine this on the first visit, or on the re-check.

So, if your horse has an eye injury it is important to contact your vet immediately, it can be the difference in your horse seeing, or going blind. Things to remember:

1. Contact your vet with an eye injury, a quick response will increase the possibility of a good outcome.

2. Keep the horse quiet, help him or her to rest they eye.

3. Administer medications as prescribed.

4. Schedule a follow up if your vet hasn’t already.

5. And give your horse lots of attention, a positive and loving environment has been proven to help any-one's prognosis, horse or human!

References: Equine Recurrent Uveitis (Chronic Intraocular Inflammation).
Accessed on April 4, 2011.
Horse News More In This Category:  Care and Grooming      Horse News More From This Author:  Ghost
Fantastic article! Really well explained and definitely something useful for horse owners.
  Apr 21, 2011  •  4,840 views
Clair L  
this will really help(: thanks(:
  Apr 21, 2011  •  4,836 views
Very helpful, and greatly written article.
  Apr 21, 2011  •  4,808 views
T E M P E S T  
Great article!
  Apr 21, 2011  •  4,845 views
Emma Watson  
  Apr 22, 2011  •  4,840 views
I agree with Artista, fantastic article and really well explained ♥
  Apr 22, 2011  •  4,807 views
T W I  
0.o You're quite knowledgable!
If I ever get a horse I'll definately have to refer back to this article. :)
  Apr 22, 2011  •  4,866 views
Thanks everyone! Kind of as a quick update, Rohan has required further treatment, the Uvitis just hasn't given up, we've increased the drops to twice a day, added another steroid ointment and was giving him banamine injections IV or IM for 5 days. 10 more days--but he's improving, the eye is open, we're still questioning cornea involvement, (what you actually process images through, hard almost marble-like bulb in the center of your eye)it's not reacting. We'll see!! (no pun intended..but I'd prefer he see!)
  Apr 22, 2011  •  4,827 views
Well explained! Eye injuries can be nasty. We've had very few serious injuries, but recently had one that through a freak accident his eye burst (current theory is the trouble maker was fighting over the fence and either was hit just right by the other horse or a fence post). The vet wanted to remove the eye, but the owner didn't want surgery. The vet probably would have put up more of a fight over removing the eye if the horse had been anywhere else because of the high risk of infection in the eye traveling to the brain and killing him. But, the barn owner is extremely diligent with caring for injuries, so it all turned out well.
  Apr 23, 2011  •  4,914 views
Seven Sins  
great article
  Apr 23, 2011  •  4,826 views
Topthorn Equestri  
My trainer was taking care of a horse with an ulcer in her eye. It was a very hard treatment. Good article!
  Apr 26, 2011  •  4,833 views
great article!
  May 2, 2011  •  4,806 views
 More News by Ghost
Workouts To Improve Your Riding - The Lower Back
11th Jun 2011   |   Care and Grooming   |   Ghost
This article is applicable to my current field of work - Personal Training, but focuses on exercises that are beneficial to the rider. Envision one of those nagging mornings after the first ride back following a long winter off. ...
  View All News by Ghost
©2002 - 2020   PonyBox LLC Create Account Advertise Terms Privacy Contact Us
179 Members Online 269,489 Registered Members 2,805 News Articles 11,932,222 Unique News Article Views 285,092,700 Website Views