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Uveitis- is it always recurrent?

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  • Uveitis- is it always recurrent?

    I've owned my horse for two years. He has always been healthy until he was recently diagnosed with uveitis. He has never had any eye problems before this. The day he developed symptoms was extremely buggy. I didn't put a mask on him because he has a really long forelock. In hindsight, that was a bad idea.

    My suspicion was that this was trauma related from getting a bug in his eyes. The vet seems to think it is likely the recurrent type. But i can't think that it is a coincidence that the first really buggy day we have had, is the same day he develops a flare up. I will add that he is extremely sensitive to bugs. He fence paces if the flies are bad. He aggressively flings his head if he even sees a fly during riding.

    ​​​​​​Thoughts? He is not an appaloosa.

  • #2
    Not always. At least my vet explained to me that uveitis simply means an infection in the front structures of the eye and doesn’t necessarily always become a chronic / recurring condition.

    My horse had a nasty bout 2 years ago and it has never (knock on wood) recurred. Before and since then he always seemed prone to conjunctivitis so after the uveitis incident I using a fly mask for turnout year round, and even the minor eye irritations stopped.


    • #3
      My appy had uveitis and it only flared up a couple times in the 12 years I owned him. However, when looking back at old photos of him, I see he was squinting in many of them, and likely uncomfortable in the bright sun. He was a one-in-a-million horse and never let on that he was going blind until I changed barns and noticed he bumped into things.

      Keep your eyes out for those subtle symptoms, too.


      • #4
        Check with your vet about adding MSM to the diet to help minimize flare ups, and if so, how much. It's been several years since we had to deal with this problem in our horses, but that was the recommendation at the time and it did seem to help. An internet search would also give you the appropriate dose if it is something you want to try.

        ETA I checked my records and the MSM dose was 10 grams per day (10,000 mgs).
        Last edited by Chief2; Apr. 20, 2019, 03:06 AM.
        "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." Albert Einstein


        • #5
          I know more about uveitis in humans than horses (for a change, as for most things I am much better informed about horses), so I will say it depends on what caused the uveitis as to whether or not it will recur. We generally see recurring uveitis in patients with HSK, but chances are your horse doesn't have that
          Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit amphetamines.


          • #6
            My daughter's mare developed this suddenly after we moved back here nearly 5 years ago. Warmer climate, humidity, so many more bugs and flies then we dealt with up North. She can go 6 months with no problems or symptoms at all and then suddenly I can find her with one or both eyes swollen, weepy and itching. It can take several days of treatment to get it resolved.

            I keep her mask on 24/7 from early Spring to late Fall. I do check her eyes daily. I am able to give her a break from wearing it in the Winter unless we have snow cover and bright sunshine.

            I think it is different for every horse. She is an appaloosa cross. My mare is appaloosa as well, but she has never been bothered by bugs or with eye issues at all.


            • #7
              Recurrent uveitis flare ups can be triggered by things like bugs, dust, pollen, etc. So it probably isn’t a coincidence, but it also could still be a recurrent form of uveitis. Any horse can develop uveitis, not just Apps. A uveitis diagnosis in cases like this is a good thing because it can help you avoid more serious problems in the future. You’ll need to manage inflammation and protect his eyes going forward. You may see improvement in the fence walking and bug sensitivity once his eyes are more comfortable as well. It is worth it to be proactive with eyes!
              "Sometimes the fear won't go away... so you just have to do it afraid."

              Trolls be trollin'! -DH