Horses frequently suffer from eye problems that range from corneal ulcers to uveitis to tumors of the eye or eyelid. All horses benefit from an eye exam as part of their annual physical to check for subtle problems like cataracts or retinal scarring. If one or both of your horse’s eyes shows a color or size change, or if an eyelid develops a growth or irritation an appointment should be scheduled. The sudden appearance of a closed, painful eye warrants a “same day” veterinary examination, as these signs may indicate a condition that can threaten sight.
All GVEC veterinarians perform routine eye exams and handle ocular emergencies. Dr. Ann Dwyer has a special interest in ocular problems and is available to examine and treat complex cases on select days. Diagnostic services at GVEC include slit lamp biomicroscopy, intraocular pressure measurement, corneal cytology and biopsy of abnormal ocular tissues. Treatment options include insertion of subpalpebral lavage systems, treatment of infectious and non-infectious keratitis, glaucoma and uveitis, repair of eyelid tears, and treatment of ocular and periocular tumors. Standing surgical procedures offered include blepharoplasty, cryotherapy, intralesional chemotherapy, corneal debridement, superficial keratectomy and enucleation.
Certain equine breeds carry increased risk of ocular problems, including Appaloosas, Pony of the Americas, Haflingers, Belgian draft horses, Friesians, Rocky Mountain Horses and miniature horses. Horses that have pink skin/white markings around one or both eyes are at increased risk to develop cancer in the ocular region, and some horses with silver dapple coat coloring have abnormal ocular anatomy. Genetic testing is available for many of the risks listed below, and regular eye examination of these breeds or coat colors is advised.
|Condition||Breed or Type at Risk|
|Uveitis||Appaloosa, Pony of the Americas, certain lines of draft horses or warmbloods, other breeds with spotted coat patterns|
|Squamous Cell Carcinoma (Cancer on the eye or eyelid)||Appaloosa, Haflinger, Belgian draft, Paints or other horses with pink skin/white markings along the eyelid margin(s)|
|Multiple Congenital Ocular Anomaly||Rocky Mountain Horse, Miniature horse, any individual with “Silver dapple” coat coloring|
|Congenital Stationary Night Blindness||Appaloosa|
|Bilateral Corneal Stromal Loss, and/or Distichiasis||Friesian|