XL Equine vet Dr. Aoife Byrne DrMedVet MRCVS discusses dealing with a serious equine eye issue.
An equine eye case that I treated recently reminded me why I always make sure that they are examined as a matter of urgency. This is because what can seem at first as a minor injury can be hiding more complex damage, which can turn out to have serious consequences later on.
I was visiting a clients yard to do some routine work and while I was there I examined Finn. He had come in from the field a few days before, with grazes above his right eye. These were healing, but today his owner had noticed that the inside of his eye looked yellow in colour.
An examination revealed that Finn had suffered more than just external injuries, and in fact the blunt force trauma, that he had sustained had caused haemorrhage within his eye globe. This in turn had caused a huge inflammatory response and a subsequent uveitis inflammation, within his eye. I immediately started him on treatment, but it was too late to give a drug to treat the internal bleeding. We would have to wait and see if that settled with time.
The next day, I performed an ultrasound examination on Finn’s eye, to check the full extent of the trauma. Unfortunately, it had also caused a luxation of his lens. This meant his vision was more than likely compromised. As a show jumper, this meant a major decision for his owner. A difficult choice between a general anaesthetic (with all the risk it entails) for a complex surgery to replace the damaged lens with a synthetic one or a standing sedation to remove the damaged eye completely.
The owner opted to remove the eye and this was performed at our surgery, meaning Finn went home the next day. He made an uneventful recovery and after a few weeks of adjusting to one eye, Finn returned to the showjumping circuit, gaining second place in a class of over 100 competitors!