Equine ophthalmic injuries and diseases are common problems due to the prominent profile of the eye. Signs such as squinting, eyelid swelling, blue appearance, rubbing, visible lacerations, and white or yellow discharge – all indicate eye pain and are emergencies.

Some of the most frequent diseases of the equine eye are:

  • Corneal ulcer is a painful scratch on the surface of the eye, characterized by the above signs.These injuries rapidly become infected, which can lead to loss of the eye if left untreated. A stain is used to diagnose the ulcer – from small pinpoint defects to large, dime-sized craters – and a treatment plan will be implemented.
  • Equine recurrent uveitis (moon blindness) is a disease that causes inflammation within the eye. Signs are similar to corneal ulcers, though treatment is entirely different and an exam is required to distinguish between these two diseases. Certain breeds, such as Appaloosas, are predisposed to moon blindness.  As the name implies, this condition is usually chronic and can cause blindness, so it requires close monitoring of the eye.
  • Obstructed nasolacrimal ducts are another common eye condition.  In this disease, the small duct that connects the eye and the nose, allowing tears to drain, becomes blocked with mucus. Because tears are not able to drain, tears overflow from the eye and cause tear staining, a loss of hair below the eye.  To treat this condition, a small tube is used to flush the duct, unclogging it. 
  • Eyelid lacerations, if not repaired immediately, can cause a permanent eyelid deformity, predisposing the horse to further eye injury.  Our practice uses tiny suture material to ensure the best cosmetic and functional results.  

Colts Head Veterinary Services treats these ophthalmic conditions, and many others, directly on the farm. If necessary, we consult with board certified specialists and can arrange referral to an ophthalmologist if your horse requires more intensive treatment or surgery. For most ophthalmic exams, the horse is lightly sedated and the eyelids or eye surface is numbed to allow a thorough exam. Our veterinarians also perform an ophthalmic assessment during all pre-purchase exams.