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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July Case of the Month:
A 3 year old quarter horse mare was noted to have squinting of her left eye with most of her eye shut, and copious tearing with some white ocular discharge. Due to pain she was resistant to let her owner touch it to allow closer evaluation. She is in a dry lot with 2 other horses, and is fed grass hay. After sedation and blocking the nerves around the eye, evaluation was allowed. What is wrong with this eye and what is the likelihood this will heal even with intense management? For horses who have eye problems and are difficult to treat- what system can be used?
This mare has a descemetocele which is an extremely severe ulceration of the cornea. Basically there is one cell layer separating this eye from rupture. Corneal ulcerations are common in horses due to their prominent eye placement and should always be viewed as an emergency as innocuous looking scrapes can turning into melting ulcerations (as pictured above) very quickly. Melting ulcers occur when the body’s or a bacteria’s enzymes get out of control and cause degeneration of the surrounding ocular tissue. To identify an ulceration veterinarians use fluorescein dye which sticks to the ulceration and allows it to be more visible. Signs of more mild ulcerations include tearing, holding the eye halfway shut or not fully open. Sometime the ulcer can only be seen with staining. A painful eye should always be evaluated as soon as possible (even if it means that dreaded ER fee). Some horses will not allow medication of the eye due to pain level or behavioral issues. In these cases a subpalpebral lavage system (SPL) which consists of placing a small disk that is attached to tubing through the eyelid which then allows you to medicate from the horse’s withers as it travels through the tubing to the disk in the eyelid. The SPL system is easy to place and can be very beneficial for medication purposes. For this mare the severity of her ulceration led to globe rupture within 24 hours even after placing an SPL- at this point the eye was removed. There are multiple other therapies for ulcerations (including conjunctival flaps) and the complications that arise in each case- if you feel your horse has a painful eye give us a call as soon as possible.