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Animal Care Library

Use our Animal Care Library for quick, easy access to our most common animal care problems. Use our Animal Care Library for quick, easy access to our most common animal care problems. Use our Animal Care Library for quick, easy access to our most common animal care problems.

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Eye Ulcers Species: horses

Our vets at Vet Cross have seen an increasing number of horses experiencing issues with their eyes recently. The most common issue we are currently diagnosing is corneal ulceration. This injury can easily become sight threatening. The cornea is the smooth, glossy outmost layer of the eye. Corneal ulcers often occur due to some form of trauma to the eye e.g. scratching the eye, sharp insult or a foreign body in the eye or underneath the eyelid. Other causes of ulceration can be bacterial, fungal or viral infections. The cornea is a protective layer for the eye and it also focuses light onto the back of the eye, which is part of the process that allows your horse to see. When the cornea is damaged, the eye is extremely vulnerable to infection from the outside world and the function of the eye is compromised. Ulcers are extremely painful, the common clinical signs that we see are: - Closing of the eye - Excessive amounts of tears coming from the eye - Swollen eyelids - Dis-colouration of the eyeball/blurring of the eye Treatment of ulcers can be challenging depending upon how long the ulcer has been there, it’s size and depth and the infectious agents that are present. When assessing an ulcer, our vets perform a number of tests on the eye to ensure that we treat it properly and appropriately. One of the tests includes staining the eye with fluorescein dye, this will be seen as a bright green stain (see bottom right picture). This dye adheres to the cornea on areas where the first layer is not intact. Some ulcers are too deep and don’t show on staining so are visually identified. The biggest challenge when treating ulcers is the actual application of the medication. Horses are amazing at becoming 10 foot tall when you’re trying to put drops into a very sore eye! We often place a lavage tube into the eyelid which can help medication application if your horsey pal is not quite keeping up their end of the deal. We cannot stress enough that eye ulcers can become a real issue very quickly. If your horse is noticed to have a sore eye and you are concerned, contact us immediately.

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