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If You Suspect A Horse Has A Vision Problem...

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  • If You Suspect A Horse Has A Vision Problem...

    .. are there things that your vet cannot check and that you would have to take them to an opthamologist for?
    "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

  • #2
    I think your vet can give you a general idea if the horse is losing vision or not but the ophthalmologist will possibly be able to tell you why and to what extent.

    One of the local vets just directed a boarder to a specialist because the horse got a cut on it's eye (for the 3rd time) and he thinks the horse is going blind or losing sight since he's an Appaloosa and the cut isn't helping matter so he directed her to a specialist to tell her for sure if he's losing sight/going to be blind.


    • #3
      Your vet can certainly tell you if the horse's vision is impaired or not, but if its not a "routine" condition, you'll need a specialist.
      Strong promoter of READING the entire post before responding.


      • #4
        My vet was a big help in telling me that YES my horse obviously had a problem with her eye. Then she was a big help in pointing me to two different specialists. They determined what it was and were able to give me several options for treatment, none of which had even so much as a 10% chance of working and were hugely expensive, so I opted to have them "kill the eye." (for lack of a better term as it is still in her head, just not working)
        Read about my riding adventures at:
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        • #5
          Your vet should be able to diagnose eye injuries, uveitis and some cancers of the eye. For more in-depth issues, I would either get a referral to a large animal hospital or to a veterinary opthalmologist. VO's are usually limited in number and take patients from a wide geographic region, so you will have to book ahead. If your own vet can't refer you to one, call a small animal hospital that does a lot of work with outside specialists (eyes, cardiac specialists, etc.). They will know who is practicing where, and can help you get in touch.

          Here is the link for the American College of Veterinary Opthalmologists. Click on 'Veterinarians and Public' at the bottom of the page, and it will take you to a locator page.

          "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." Albert Einstein



          • #6
            Your vet should at least be able to tell you if there is a problem or not and then they can probably refer you to a specials or you can go to the specialist you had in mind.


            • #7
              An ophthalmologist is likely to have some of the more specialized toys for examination of the interior structures of the eye that the average equine practitioner would not, as well as being more skilled at interpreting the findings of an ocular exam.
              "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

              ...just settin' on the Group W bench.


              • #8
                My vet was able to say, 'yep, looks like unusually large corpora nigra. yep, might be cystic. Yep, might be obstructing vision in sunlight...' and that was it.

                Certainly it depends on the issue and the vet's experience. Same vet is fabulous with ulcerated corneas--we in the land of black flies deal with them so commonly. Cateracts, can diagnose, can't do surgery.

                But something slightly more exotic... can agree with what *I* see/diagnose... and not much more.
                InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs

                Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)


                • #9
                  Originally posted by EqTrainer View Post
                  .. are there things that your vet cannot check and that you would have to take them to an opthamologist for?
                  no - not in my case anyways my vets and thet vets around here are large animal vets with there own large full on operational services for the horse to include rubber padded recovery rooms
                  and as osiris is under the study of the vets for his eyes as he has uv which here in uk isnt so common as it is in usa has treatment for free and regualar visited with students as a case study so they can learn


                  • #10
                    A general large animal vet can tell you basic things but in my experience they are not the best with eyes. I suppose it depends on the vet.

                    I've had much better luck with the opthamologist.
                    We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.


                    • #11
                      My regular vet is a an old-school 'truck vet' - single practitioner, no operating facilities...and IMO is the absolutely the bomb, but when we battled eye troubles with Jake last winter, and he didn't feel Jake was progressing fast enough, he didn't hesitate to refer us over to Alabama Ophthamology Associates, and meet me over there. Dr. Korsch had more tools and gadgets than he does, and all she does is eyeballs, from dogs to Jake horses, LOL, so it's what she knows. I was very pleased.

                      Eyes are too precious to mess around with - I'd ask for a referral, if your vet doesn't suggest one.


                      • Original Poster

                        This has been a very interesting subject. The horse in question is not mine so this is all somewhat second hand.. but I have seen the horse and it acts as if it is developing a vision problem or has developed one.

                        The owners vet examined his eyes carefully and said there were no issues with them at all and that there was nothing to have an opthamalogist check. FWIW there is no tearing, no squinting, none of the "usual" things.. just a horse who suddenly acts as if he cannot see so well.

                        When she told me, I realized that I really didn't KNOW if equine opthamologists mostly deal in acute situations or if they do indeed diagnose obscure things that a regular, thorough examination from a regular vet could not detect.

                        So I think I am going to suggest a call to NCSU, who has an excellent opthamology department....

                        thanks everyone.
                        "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                        The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.


                        • #13
                          In my experience, most vets can detect cataracts, corneal uclers, uveitis, etc. but more unusual eye problems require a specialist (equine opthamolgist)....to diagnose thing like "night blindness" (aka Night Blindness of the Appaloosa. Yes, that it the formal name). Many really do not how to appropriately treat uveitis, so a consult with a specialist is important.

                          Years ago, I kept telling my vet that I didn't think my horse could see from dawn to dusk. It was very obvious to me. His comment was their either blind or their not. Wrong. I consulted a specialist and he immediately knew what it was (not treatable, btw..it's genetic).

                          OTOH, I once had a horse hit square in the eye in a hailstorm (presumably from a big hail stone). He had a partial blue eye..it was filled with blood. The force of the stone smashed his retina against the cornea (not sure about what fused to what...it was long ago).

                          Long story longer, the same vet came immediately and was also wise enough to immediately consult with a specialist on how to treat to prevent blindness from adhesions that could literally shut the eyesight down. Atropine, administered 4 x day for FOUR months, is the only thing that kept those adhesions from forming...but that's not something the vet "in the field" would know. I'm so happy my vet has no ego and called in the big guns right away.

                          IME, a chronic or genetic eye/vision problem needs a specialist and early on. An acute injury does not (use a well-educated vet) unless it is something catastrophic.
                          www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
                          "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
                          Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube


                          • #14
                            Given the additional info, I would absolutely follow up with an opthamologist.

                            Ten years ago I had a 3 year old filly that sustained a tear to her lower eyelid. No apparent trauma to the eye though we did treat it with antibiotics and steroids. At a recheck a few weeks later, the vet insisted the horse had glaucoma and would lose the eye.

                            Thankfully we have a good opthamologist in town and she came out, and after a thorough exam she found absolutely nothing wrong.

                            Horse never had a problem and has been doing the local hunters for years now.

                            Since then I've seen vets guess and stab at eye issues but few are good at concrete diagnosis or evaluating beyond very basic things. I would never trust a general vet to give me a good eval on an eye.

                            Glad NCSU has a good department, definitely worth checking in with them.

                            Any chance there is something neurologic going on that may manifest as vision issues, which may not be readily apparent with an exam of the eye?
                            Last edited by FlashGordon; Sep. 26, 2009, 04:47 PM.
                            We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.