Corneal Ulcers

During windy conditions we see an increase in horses with eye injuries. The most common eye condition we treat in horses is a corneal ulcer, where the protective outer layer of the eyeball is injured and can become infected with bacteria or fungi from the environment.

This is commonly caused by direct eye trauma from dirt/debris in the paddock or from some form of collision.  The earliest signs of a corneal ulcer in your horse include squinting/ shutting the affected eye and increased discharge (can be watery or mucoid). These signs alone warrant a call to the vet as eye conditions can worsen quickly and should be treated promptly. 

What are veterinarians able to do to examine your horse’s eye?

Our vets will examine the eye and may use a stain to show the size and depth of the ulcer. This process can require sedation or nerve blocks to allow a thorough assessment. Small, mild ulcers are treated at home with anti-inflammatories and topical eye ointments. However, severe melting ulcers require intensive treatment, sometimes needing referral for hospitalisation or surgery.

Keep a close eye! on your horses out in the wind and give us a call if you notice any of the above signs. An early visit can help avoid a painful and expensive trip to the hospital.

A painful eye is easiest to see from front on- notice the downward pointing eyelashes on the eye on the left. This horse has had an spl (treatment tube) to directly administer medication to the affected eye. 

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An example of a positive fluorescein stain
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A severe infected ulcer requiring hospitalisation