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Iron Will

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Ophthalmology

Education | Ophthalmology

Your horse's eyes should be examined as part of a regular physical exam. However, more thorough testing is needed in the following circumstances:

   • There is an abnormal appearance to one or both eyes, such as swelling, redness,

     cloudiness, or discharge

   • Your horse shows signs of pain, such as holding an eye closed or rubbing at the eyes

   • You suspect that your horse is experiencing changes in vision (for example, because your

     horse ran into a fence)

The ophthalmic exam often begins with an evaluation of the horse's vision. Performing the ophthalmic examination in a darkened, quiet area is ideal for evaluating the horse's eyes. A menace test may also be conducted to see if the horse blinks when a finger is moved toward, but without touching, the eye. A pupillary light reflex test is used to evaluate the retina (the sensory membrane that lines the eye's interior), the muscles controlling the iris (the colored portion of the eye), the nerves, and the part of the brain that controls visualization. A bright light is shown into each eye to evaluate both eyes for pupil constriction. An ophthalmic exam usually includes a thorough evaluation of the outer eye structures, including the tissues around the eyes, the eyelids, the duct where the tears drain from the eyes, and the nerves that affect the eyes. At the same time, the eye will be examined for inflammation and infection as well as for foreign bodies and unusual growths.

Because of their large, protruding eyes, horses often inadvertently scratch their cornea (the clear layer on the front of the eye). Because these painful abrasions or ulcers are not always visible with the unaided eye, a fluorescein stain test will be conducted to display the location and size of the abrasion.

 

Another painful condition for horses is equine recurrent uveitis, which is also known as moon blindness. This condition is due to inflammation of the eye's interior. Certain breeds are predisposed to developing this disease and if not treated it can lead to blindness.

 

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