Horse Eye Injury - How to Treat
Treat Quickly to Prevent Eye Infection and Blindness
An older mare showed up at the barn one night with a runny eye. Upon inspection of the eye, it was found to be a small splinter of wood in her eye. The risk of permanent blindness causes us to want to act fast on eye problems. Get the horse to the local vet as soon as possible.
The vet flushed the eye with a saline solution to clean it out. Then some Fluorescein was put in the eye to help see the injury. Fluorescein is an orange stain that dyes the eye green to highlight any injury or to detect foreign bodies in the eye.
The saline flush had washed out the splinter, but the eye was punctured. The vet applied antibiotic ointment into the eye and instructed the horse owner to re-apply the ointment every 4 hours for the next few days. The vet wanted to prevent any eye infection from developing. The vet also supplied some Banamine to help keep the mare more comfortable and alleviate pain.
The vet suggested the horse be in a dark stall for the next few days and to put a fly mask on her to keep dust out of her eye.
After a week of the every 4 - 6 hour treatment was dropped back to twice a day with the ointment.
Sadly, even with excellent treatment, the horse has a blind spot in her eye and may eventually lose her vision in that whole eye. If you are going to go blind, going blind slowly has some advantages. It gives you time to adjust, but still its a sad development. Watching the horse navigate her way, she tilts her head in a way to give her good eye a better view of where she is going. Horses do cope well.
Flymasks are one way horse owners can help prevent eye injuries. The masks act to shield the eyes from hay or dust getting in the eye. Using fly masks on horses when they are in the pasture, may help save another eye.