A wide range of ocular conditions can affect horses. They may present with a very sudden onset and must be dealt with quickly.
Simple conjunctivitis will respond to eye drops or ointment supplied by your vet. If it does not respond, it might be necessary to take a swab or a conjunctival biopsy to determine which organism is causing the infection. We often see minor injuries to the surface of the eye (the cornea) as a result of trauma or abrasion.
More serious conditions include painful uveitis, foreign bodies, cataracts and deep corneal ulceration. Severe trauma or inflammation can result in significant changes or rupture to the eye: these cases are surgical emergencies.
In order to perform a thorough ocular examination, it may be necessary to sedate the horse. Our clinicians often put a coloured dye ('Fluoroscein') into the horse's eye to help detect any ulcers (pictured), or damage to the surface of the cornea. An ophthalmoscope will be used to visualise the cornea, lens, iris, retina and inner chambers of the eye. In some conditions the front of the eye may become very cloudy and it may not be possible to observe the back of the eye with an ophthalmoscope.
In these cases, admission to our diagnostic centre for ultrasound examination may be recommended to assess these hidden structures.
Many eye problems can be treated by topical eye ointments, which will need to be administered several times daily, as prescribed by your vet. Serious infections, ulcers or eye trauma may require a number of medications to be administered at frequent intervals and for these cases we recommend hospitalisation for treatment by our experienced clinicians. We additionally offer expert opinion from visiting ophthalmology consultants.