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Swollen eyelid but no fluid? UPDATE: I'm shocked, it's uveitis

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  • Swollen eyelid but no fluid? UPDATE: I'm shocked, it's uveitis

    I went up to the barn tonight and ride and noticed my gelding's eyelid was swollen. It was not HUGE but certainly enough that he did not want to open his eye unless he had to (ie, you had food or a horse was walking by).

    He is otherwise fine....normal appetite, alert, no signs of distress. I've dealt with eye problems before and what strikes me about this one is that there is no sign of trauma, no synovial fluid, no mucus, nothing to show damage or irritation or anything else.

    He got some bute tonight and if there is no improvement tomorrow morning the vet is coming out.

    The only thing I can think of is some sort of allergic reaction to something he ate.

    Any thoughts? It doesn't seem to fit ulcers, uveitis, cornea damage, etc.
    Last edited by WW_Queen; Oct. 9, 2008, 01:02 PM.
    A quick tutorial on interval training: Conditioning your horse for eventing

  • #2
    Well, my horse had uveitis and he would have his eye show up swollen with no symptoms or obvious signs of trauma, maybe just a little bit moist. Did you just worm him?


    • #3
      Could be a bug bite - still lots of those nasty biting flies buzzing around, and they don't leave much of a mark but can cause some nasty swelling. There is also ragweed and a few other things still making pollen, and it may be a reaction to that. Or maybe something as simple as a bit of a bump, enough to raise swelling without breaking the skin or peeling hair off.
      Founder of the Dyslexic Clique. Dyslexics of the world - UNTIE!!

      Member: Incredible Invisbles


      • #4
        I was also going to say bug bite. Not too long ago my horse's eye was very swollen and we attributed it to a bee sting.


        • #5
          We had a bug bite like that in July. Vet came, couldn't find anything else.
          There is no snooze button on a cat that wants breakfast.


          • #6
            You probably already checked, but is there something IN the eye?

            The horse who came up with a swollen eye here, had a seed caught under her eyelid. Being so swollen, it was difficult to get the lid up enough to remove seed, but we did.

            Washed the eye with a rinse, a couple times a day, for a couple days, until swelling was gone.

            I would not think allergy, only one eye is a problem. Anything he could have gotten his face bonked on? Sticking his head out a window or door, then quickly pulling back inside to avoid something?


            • Original Poster

              Hmmm, bug bite seems like that would be a match.

              I did try to get his eyelid open as much as possible, took a quick peek around and did not see anything unusual. I figure if it was debris like a foreign object, there would be fluid constantly being produced with the eye doing it's best to flush it out, correct?

              He lives outside but I'm sure could have easily whacked it on something like the hay feeder or while in the run-in shed. I would have thought the area AROUND the eyelid would be swollen as well, and the lower lid appears to be normal, but the upper lid is creating a hood around his eye.

              No, I didn't just worm him. I was there on Sunday and he was perfectly normal. It's possible he was bitten on Monday and perhaps the worst of the swelling is going down?

              I called the barn this morning to ask how it was doing, and they said it was looking a bit better today, no major improvement but better than last night.

              He had bute yesterday, but I didn't want to put anything in his eye without good cause. I can give him some banamine today but is there anything else I should be doing? Someone suggested that I put tea bags on the eyelids to draw out the swelling and all sorts of people suggested sticking in some cream or another.

              I am going up tonight to visit, and will assess then.

              How soon (if this were a bug bite) should I expect to see improvement?
              A quick tutorial on interval training: Conditioning your horse for eventing


              • #8
                never muck about with eyes---- as theere are tons of problems it could be
                always call a vet asap as you could be making things worse by poking his eye about if there was ever a forgein object in there it can go deeper everytime you try to open the eye


                • #9
                  Call the vet - you don't mess around with eyes. My mare has had two corneal ulcers in the past 2½ years. The first one started with a swollen eyelid - I called the vet right away. She ended up spending four days at the equine "hospital" as it was that bad. Had I waited to call the vet she would have lost her eye. Her cornea was literally melting off. The next one started with a swollen eyelid also - thankfully it wasn't nearly as bad. I could actually see the ulcer on her eye - it was very tiny and the vet was surprised I could see it due to it being so small. I was able to treat this one at home. My mare has lost some vision in that eye (both ulcers were in her right eye) but she has adjusted to it.

                  Call the vet .
                  "When a horse greets you with a nicker & regards you with a large & liquid eye, the question of where you want to be & what you want to do has been answered." CANTER New England


                  • #10
                    My horse just had conjunctivitis . . . not the same as what you're describing, but my vet told me that I could treat it with the same pink eye medicine that I use on my kids (can't remember the name) as it happened on a Sunday. Can your vet phone in a 'script for ophthalmic ointment?
                    Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                    EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.


                    • #11
                      Well I have to say I agree with the others about calling the vet. I'm a veterinary ophthalmology technician and I can't tell you how many ruptured eyes we see because the owner thought they'd wait and see for a couple of days before calling the vet. There are only a few bacteria that will eat through a cornea, but lets face it, horses don't live in the cleanest environments in the world. Fungus and bacteria can literally eat through a cornea in 24 hours and once and eye is ruptured the chances of saving it become slim, and even if it's salvageable the chance of saving vision is even slimmer. I wouldn't wait, I'd call.
                      All I pay my psychiatrist is the cost of feed and hay, and he'll listen to me any day.


                      • Original Poster

                        I went up tonight to see if there was any improvement, and it was minimal. The BO said it was "better" this morning but from what I can tell there was little to no change. The vet will be out in the morning.

                        This particular vet practice is very "casual" about stuff (I would know, I was formerly a client) and the BO thought she was reassuring me by telling me they would just say "Put some ointment in, it'll clear up".

                        Yup....sounds like the practice I know and love [HATE!]. If they give that diagnosis in the morning I will most likely scream "Second opinion!" and call out my new (much better, but not "preferred vet" status at this particular barn) vet.

                        What a pain...pure politics. All I care about is his eye, I can worry about money later.
                        A quick tutorial on interval training: Conditioning your horse for eventing


                        • Original Poster

                          So the vet came this morning, it's uveitis. I had to leave work and sit in my car for about a 1/2 hour, because I was crying. It's been a long year and a half with his other issues, and now THIS????

                          I don't know anything about uveitis, but from what I've read so far it looks poor, especially for a sporthorse.

                          I'm just beside myself. I can't believe it.
                          A quick tutorial on interval training: Conditioning your horse for eventing


                          • #14
                            WWQ, I am sorry for the diagnosis, but don't despair, it can be managed. You'll need banamine for ocular pain (not bute) and you'll need a good flymask (aka sunglasses) and then follow the program your vet recommends.

                            Non-specific eye swelling happened three times over twelve years before I realized what it was. Now I look back on photos and can see he squinted with that eye. He was spooky about the wind blowing things in his face, and now I realize it was because that eye was slowly going blind.

                            But -- that didn't stop him from being a perfect riding horse. We did cliff-hanger trail rides, you would never know. Clearly, I didn't.

                            Someone just posted on here about her success with a drug that is implanted in the eye. Do a search on the threads.



                            • #15
                              My horse had a flair up of Uveitis in the Spring. She's a Pinto. It was treated with bute, atropine, and another eye ointment. The atropine and ointment should be put in several times a day for about a week. Her's cleared up. She has a Guardian Google FlyMask for sunny days and wears an ordinary fly mask on overcast days and overnight. She is out 24/7 and always has a mask on...except when ridden. She has had no other flair ups. My vet told me that the first thing to do if you see a flair up is to give bute to get the inflamation down, and then call her.


                              • #16
                                I have two horses with uveitis. A good mask, especially the Guardian Mask will help TONS. In 4 years of using 95% Guardian masks we have only had 1 flare up. The weave is so tight on them that they don't allow dust in, bugs and of course they limit UV light. Mine wear them 365 days a year from morning until just before dark. It is a manageable condition and if you are very attentive you can really slow down the vision loss. Treat aggressively as soon as you think there might be a flare up. Even a little squinting should be a cue to get busy. Our last flare up I caught only when I saw the horse squint slightly. I jumped on it so fast the flare up was gone in record time.

                                Always keep meds on hand. Ointment for horses with uveitis contains steroids so if you have any doubts that there might be an injury instead of a flare up then don't use the steriod. Using steroids on a scratched cornea will cause ulceration and fast. I keep triple antibiotic ointment on hand at all times plus the antibiotic with steriods and atropine. You definitely need a high quality mask when you use the atropine because the pupil will be fixed open to ease the pain (pupil spasms in a flare up) and with the pupil open sunlight can damage the retina.

                                If your horse has uveitis I recommend you get the Guardian Mask with the maximum amount of sun protection (95%). http://www.guardianmask.com/ They have masks for riding as well.
                                Altamont Sport Horses
                                Trakehners * Knabstruppers * Appaloosa Sport Horses
                                Home of stallions: Ambrosius af Asgard "Atlantis" & Hollywood Hot Spot
                                Birmingham, AL


                                • #17
                                  Wasn't there a post recently on someone who had experimental injections into the eye and it cured (or helped tremendously) there UVetisis (sp).
                                  It actually was the second post that invovled injections, the other was 6 months or so ago (I bookmarked it but lost the bookmark).

                                  Also, can someone clarify the link to double dosing with dewormer. I never got that clear, did it help or aggrevate UV?


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by WW_Queen View Post
                                    So the vet came this morning, it's uveitis. I had to leave work and sit in my car for about a 1/2 hour, because I was crying. It's been a long year and a half with his other issues, and now THIS????

                                    I don't know anything about uveitis, but from what I've read so far it looks poor, especially for a sporthorse.

                                    I'm just beside myself. I can't believe it.
                                    slap you-- doesnt end a horses carreer at all, ossy has been a vitm of uv since 4mths old
                                    and has had a wonderful carreer as a showjumper, its painful when it does flare up but it can be managed and controlled you just have to be a bit more thoughtful that all
                                    no doubt hasnt effected your horse that much by the sounds of it, you caught it early so the process is good

                                    there are lots of people on here with the same problem just do a search in the search box

                                    fly mask fly sheet at all times during hot weather etc
                                    shavings rather than straw and makesure you are next door to a shaving bed to
                                    so any dust particals do puff up in your stable cuase the one next door has layed down or rolled
                                    muck out when horse is out, use a watere spray bottle to spray in the air so dust is settled before he comes in
                                    dont use fields or paddocks next to crops, or rape seed
                                    always bring the horse in if really hot and direct sunlight as this will make his eyes run and irarate the eyes- same to with windy or cold weather
                                    if really brightly lit stables change the bulb-- ie say from 100wat to a 40watt
                                    dampen all feedstuffs hay included rather than a haynet feed from floor then any pours wont fly into his eyes

                                    lead from the good side of the horse when bring ing turning out or handling
                                    so you dont get trampled
                                    always make sure ailes and walk ways are clear - should be anyways in case of fire
                                    but- when horse has vision problem you dont need him to stack it or for you to stack in case of emergency
                                    water in field and hay ,must be given in the same place
                                    horses in fields - you are quite within your right to ask that the horse stay with the comapnions hes used to and that your to be told if any new horses are going to share your horses fielda as his vision isnt what should be each attack will reduce his vision by a %
                                    so cant and might not see or get out of the way in time if a horse is being defensive of aggressvie

                                    stables - feed hay and water to feed at same time and to be feed water in same place
                                    coomonsense and strict rountine will help you and your horse
                                    and your commands mussnt be nampby pamy baby talk- talk normal and clear as if you would to a blind person horses dont undertand namby pamby cooooos
                                    you aid must be direct and clear- if you say no use you tons of voice
                                    and ridden aids must be spot on- why- horses look to you as a rider for confidence anyways but when one has a problem you must be 100% in what your asking the horse to do so clear and precise signals
                                    help the horse helps him and you and the horse cant still lead a quality life
                                    ossy is a national show jumper p/c horse r/c eventer, x/c ht/ you name it this horse has done and won everything we have asked of him

                                    commonsense-- and rountine is highly improtant


                                    • #19

                                      I made the comment about worming, but not double-dosing.

                                      My guy would have midline itchies, I would worm with ivermectin, and he'd get a flare-up. The wormer causes a die off of the worms that have migrated to the eyes. The die-off creates the uveitis reaction.

                                      I didn't figure THAT out until the fourth flare up.



                                      • #20
                                        Dr. Brian Gilger at North Carolinia Vet School is world renowned for his uveitis research and treatment.

                                        He can do phone consults, etc-
                                        Best of luck to you and your horse-
                                        see my ribbon quilts at: www.ribbonquilts.com