Horses can be affected by a range of ocular conditions. These range from cases of uncomplicated conjunctivitis to severe painful uveitis, foreign bodies and deep corneal ulceration. Eye diseases may present with a very sudden onset; we usually treat these cases as true emergencies and aim to have a vet attend the horse as soon as possible.
In order to perform a thorough ocular examination, it may be necessary to sedate the horse. We will often put an orange dye ('Fluoroscein') into the horse's eye to help detect any ulcers, or scratches on the surface of the cornea. An ophthalmoscope will be used to visualise the cornea, lens, iris, retina and inner chambers of the eye.
In some conditions the front part of the eye may become very cloudy and it may not be possible to see to the back of the eye with an ophthalmoscope. In these cases, our high quality hospital-based ultrasound may be used to assess these hidden structures.
Depending on the condition, many eye problems can be treated by topical eye ointments, applied several times daily. Very aggressive infections or ulcers may need a cocktail of different medications applied every 1 or 2 hours. In these cases we may advise that the horse is admitted to the hospital and an ocular lavage system placed. This allows easy and frequent application of eye drops with minimal distress to the horse.