232 First Street
Fort Lupton, CO 80621
Our clinic provides large animal ambulatory service to Fort Lupton, Hudson, Platteville, Brighton, Keenesburg, Dacono, Frederick and Firestone.
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March Case of the Month:
A 15 year old Tennessee Walker gelding presents for right ocular discharge, squinting, and cloudiness of the outside of his cornea. The owner feels that this has occurred suddenly and occasionally a fleshy pink tissue can be seen when he looks to the left. The gelding is a new horse to the herd and has pink skin around both of his eyes. Pictures of the lesion are below as well as other images from horses with the same diagnosis.
What do you suspect this horse has? (The first two pictures are of our patient, the second two pictures are of horses with the same diagnosis in similar and different presentations).
Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common cancer of the equine eye and surrounding structures. Due to Colorado’s sunny weather, UV exposure as well as inherent increased individual susceptibility and lack of periocular pigmentation, squamous cell carcinoma is commonly seen in our practice. This can manifest as a large pink tissue growing anywhere on the eye- either on the actual cornea, on the white part of the eye (sclera) on the eyelids or on the third eyelid. Occasionally, it can appears as only ulceration of the lid margins, or unhealthy looking skin around the eye or pink film over the cornea. Breeds that have more inherent risk include Belgians, Clydesdales, other draft breeds, Appaloosas, and Paints. There are a variety of different treatments for squamous cell carcinomas some of which can be performed by your regular veterinarian and others which require a board certified equine ophthalmologist. If your horse has an abnormal growth or abnormal appearing skin near his or her eye the best way to decide appropriate treatment is taking a sample of this tissue (a biopsy) and sending this to a pathologist to confirm the type of mass or if the tissue is abnormal on the cellular level. Prevention is the best course of action and can be done by having your horse wear a UV rated fly mask (ex. Guardian fly mask or Equine Sun Visor ESV Maxx) and has yearly veterinary visits to screen for any abnormalities.