Caring for an injured eye


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Horses have a knack for finding trouble even in the safest of environments.  The horse's eye seems to be an area of increased vulnerability.  As a veterinarian, I see several eye cases every week.  From swelling caused by bee stings or trauma, to large corneal ulcers that threaten to impair the horse's vision for life, it can be difficult to tell what is going on without further examination. The majority of these injuries heal quickly with the help of topical antibiotics and oral anti-inflammatories.  In rare cases, the eye is reluctant to heal itself and needs the help of more aggressive intervention.

If an injury to the cornea is refusing to heal, often the next step is to place a sub-palpebral lavage system through the eyelid.  This allows medication to be administered multiple times per day without having to pry open a painful eyelid.  In a hospital setting, it is possible to treat these horses hourly around the clock and sometimes have a more favorable outcome.  If the injury is continuing to deteriorate, a graft from the conjunctiva of the eye can be surgically placed to help bring blood supply, nutrition and add protection over the corneal ulcer. 

Once the horse's eye has stabilized, they are often released from the hospital with the lavage system in place and can be receiving frequent medications.  This can be a worrisome and exhausting period for an owner.  A lay-up care facility is a nice step down from the hospital.  At Dragonfly Farms, we can manage the sub-palpebral lavage system, the frequent medications, private turnout and offer a quiet, clean environment for recovery. 

Meet Polly, a lovely little mare who sustained a serious eye injury several weeks ago.  She has been such a joy to work with.  After receiving a conjunctival graft in the hospital, she moved to our lay-up facility for continued monitoring and medication administration through her sub-palpebral lavage system.  She is continuing to improve and we will be monitoring her eye closely to make sure she keeps moving in the right direction.

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