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Monday, 28 August 2017

What is Corneal Ulcers in Horses

What Is an Corneal Ulcer In Horses? 

The cornea is the thin outer layer of the eye.  There are several layers to the corneal although it is only about 2 millimeters thick.  Damage to the first layer of the cornea are abrasions and will usually heal on their own or be very easy to treat.  An corneal ulcer usually occurs when with there is trauma to the deeper layer of the cornea called the stroma.  When damage happens to the stroma the horse will be in a lot more pain and will show symptoms.   
A corneal Ulcer happens when there is damage to the stroma and it has not been treated quickly enough.  If you notice any symptoms from below it is important to phone the vet so they can find out if and where the ulcer is.   Treatment is usually easy enough unless it is left untreated or if the ulcer is very deeper in the layers. 

What are The Symptoms Of an Corneal Ulcer? 

Symptoms of damage or an corneal ulcer are often very easy to spot.  This means if you can notice it quickly enough there may not be time to develop a ulcer.  An ulcer that has not been treated can get infected and that will cause severe problems that include blindness or possibly loss of the eye.   

The symptoms of damage and corneal ulcers are as follows  

  • Severe tearing (dripping for eyes) 

  • Not being able to open the eye properly 

  • Sensitive to light 

  • Swollen face around the eye 

  • The eye might look cloudy (mucous membranes) 

  • Discharge from eye  

If your horse has any of the symptoms then phone the vet as they will need treatment as soon as possible to avoid more severe damage. 
Some ulcers get infected by a certain bacteria that causes a 'melting' ulcer.  This is because the bacteria produces enzymes that break down and destroy the stoma.  This will appear to look like the ulcer is melting or like may look like jelly.   

How to Treat an Corneal Ulcer In Horses 

When the vet comes out to treat the horse they may need to sedate the horse.  They will then usually put a fluorescent stain that is used to find out where and out deep a ulcer is.   
If the ulcer is not deep it will be treated will a topical antibiotic and can take a few days to a few weeks to heal.  An ulcer that is deeper or more severe may require surgery and will include putting a catheter that provides medication constantly.  This is perfect as the horse will not like being treated as he will be in pain and the eye will take weeks or even months of heal properly.  
After the vet has given the horse treatment, you will have to give support to the horse.  It will still be very sensitive to light so will need to be kept inside although some people put a fly mask of the horse to block some of the light out. 


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