Karla S. Rugh, DVM, Ph.D.
What it is: Various types of trauma involving the eye and surrounding structures.
Symptoms: Variable, depending on the type of injury, its location and severity. Excessive tearing; squinting; head-shyness; visual deficit; bluish, cloudy or red color to the eye; conjunctivitis (inflammation of the lining of the eyelids); obvious wounds to the eyeball or eyelids.
What to do: Eye injuries are always emergencies, so call your vet immediately. Don’t try to examine the eye, and don’t administer any type of treatment unless your vet advises it. If possible, put your horse in a darkened or dimly lit stall that has no hazards that could cause further damage.
Outlook: The prognosis for eye injuries depends on the location and severity of the injury, as well as the horse’s response to treatment. Injuries to the eyeball itself usually have a more guarded prognosis than those involving the eyelids and other surrounding structures. That said, most horses cope remarkably well after losing the sight in one eye.
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This article originally appeared in the 2012 issue of Horses USA. Click here to purchase the most recent issue.