One of our professors in veterinary school taught us that horse eyes often are the first body system to show subtle signs of illness, and she encouraged thorough ophthalmic exams on every single horse, even if the horse was being examined for something else. We have continued this approach, and include ophthalmic exams on all of our wellness exams. This allows for early identification of possible areas of concern, enabling additional testing, treatment, or referral if indicated.

In addition, horse eyes are especially prone to injury and diseases. Their location on the side of the head make them targets for injury, in addition, horses are constantly around abrasive substances like hay, that may scratch or damage the eyes. Not only that, but some breeds are genetically predisposed to certain ocular diseases. McGee Equine Clinic is fully equipped to examine and treat your horse’s eyes at your own barn.

Squinting, tearing, swelling of the eyelids, photophobia (reluctance to go from darker to brighter areas) and spookiness are all potentially signs of eye disease in the horse. Whenever there is a possible eye problem in a horse, it should be evaluated right away. A full ocular exam should be performed including ophthalmoscopy, fluorescein staining, nerve blocks, retinal exam, digital exam of the orbit, and a cranial nerve exam. In some instances, more advanced techniques may be necessary such as measuring the intra-ocular pressures, or the placement of a sub-palpebral lavage system.

McGee Equine Clinic is one of the few ambulatory equine practices in New England to have a TonoPen, an instrument to measure the intra-ocular pressure (pressure within the eye). This testing is very important to properly diagnose and manage chronic disease of the eye such as uveitis and glaucoma.

Problems that are seen in the equine eye include (but not limited to) :

  • Corneal ulcer
  • Uveitis
  • Eyelid lacerations
  • Cataracts
  • Stromal abscesses
  • Foreign bodies
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Glaucoma
  • Congenital Defects