On the average, most equine eye problems are considered emergencies and require immediate veterinary involvement or permanent damage and/or vision loss may result. The following is a list of ocular emergencies that should prompt a call to your veterinarian.
• Blunt head/ocular trauma
• Corneal ulcers (these are painful and will typically cause excess squinting, tearing, and swelling of the eyelids)
• Eyelid lacerations/ corneal laceration
• Acute swelling of the eyelids or periocular tissue
• Acute blindness or visual disturbance
• Excessive drainage from the medial canthus (inner corner) of the eye
• Hyphema (blood) in the eye
• Glaucoma (looks like the entire eye is enlarged, with a bluish hue)
• Stromal abscess (often looks like a yellow totan spot in the cornea)
• Uveitis (intraocular inflammation)
• Facial nerve paralysis resulting in the inability to close the eyelids (this causes exposure keratitis/ulcers)
What can I do for the eye while I wait for my veterinarian to arrive?
You can gently apply a cold compress to the eye/periorbital region for 10 minutes, if the horse allows it. This will help with swelling if the injury occurred recently. Do not attempt to pry the eyelids open, as this could potentially cause more pain, or force a penetrating foreign body further into the globe, if present. Do not administer any medications without first consulting with your veterinarian. If head trauma was sustained, and the horse is bleeding, you can apply constant pressure to the wound with a clean towel to help stop the bleeding.