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Melting Corneal Ulcer

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  • Melting Corneal Ulcer

    So last thursday I get a call from my trainer saying my horse came in with a "scratch" on his cornea, the vet came out and diagnosed with a melting corneal ulcer and put him on antibiotics and said to treat him VERY vigorously! Its now a week later, I talked to the vet today and surprisingly he thinks hes going to be ok with no surgerys! Just said to keep doing the meds and hes going to keep checking it. Said its much better! Still some swelling, but not runny or cloudy and his eye his all the way open. Has anyone had any experience with this? Will it affect his vision long term? Will there always be scaring? Im so glad this hasnt turned into a very expensive process but now im keeping my fingers crossed that he will fully recover and be able to go back to what he was doing before (adult jumpers). What are your thoughts?
    He knows when you're happy, He knows when you're comfortable, He knows when you're confident, And he ALWAYS knows when you have carrots

  • #2
    Corneal ulcers can be really bad. Most people I know have ended up taking their horse to the referral hospital because it is too difficult to medicate the eye every 2 hours around the clock and to have the vet out daily. If you don't manage everything just right or if you are unlucky, the horse can lose his eye.

    The horses I know have done well. They have small scars on their corneas, but you really have to look carefully at just the right angle and with perfect lighting to see the scars. The horses do not seem to be bothered by the scars.


    • #3
      My horse had to have surgery. (Conjuctival flap). He had an indolent ulcer. He had to have a lavage system installed so we could put the meds in his eye every 2 hours! Very difficult to treat. His was not melting, but steriods were used in the beginning which is a HUGE NO-NO. After 8 weeks of scraping, medicating, and finally installing a contact lens he looked great. no scar, ect. Fast forward 4 months later and one day the entire cornea started to slough off! The opthamologist at Tufts said the first layer never really adhered to the second layer. So surgery was he final cure. Be very vigilant with your horses eye, make sure he wears a mask also. Good Luck!


      • #4
        I have been through this with 2 of my horses, one of which had to have standing eye surgery to remove scar tissue. The vet was amazing and I was able to help...gotta love rural Maine! The vet had considered becoming an eye specialist at one time so I was very fortunate that he was there. He saved my mare's vision.

        I can also tell you from my own experience that corneal ulcers are off the chart in the pain department. I have had two, and I have learned a lot about them because the two doctors who treated them at Mass. Eye and Ear in Boston took the time to explain what they are and how they are treated.

        They told me that the cornea has the highest concentration of nerves in the body which is why a corneal ulcer is so painful. Fortunately, the eye heals very quickly which means that when you get on the right meds, things progress fast.

        I'm happy to hear that your horse is coming along well. It is possible that there can be some scarring that will affect your horse's vision, but horses are very adaptable.
        I hope the recovery continues to go well.


        • #5
          Ditto on the off the chart pain. There wasn't a drug that was used that helped my pain, and trust me, I'm no baby about pain. My doctor finally put a dissolving contact lens over it and it was almost pain free instantly. By the time it dissolved, it was healed enough. The horse I had with one ended up just fine. Lots of antibiotics and a fly mask, and kept indoors due to light sensitivity while being treated. The scaring he had wasn't visible to the naked eye, despite the initial injury being very obvious. I have tons of scarring and have to have ointment in my eye for sleep indefinitely. Occasionally, the scar tears off and I end up with the original wound again. My guess is it depends on the injury itself and the healing process. Don't despair, your horse might end up just fine like my horse did, with no visual or other problems.


          • #6
            I have had cornea issues, and have experienced incredible pain. My doctor told me that people have committed suicide over cornea pain. Hope your horse heals well and as painfree as possible!


            • #7
              Do not mess around with this

              If you have ANY concern or ANYTHING looks like it is not healing correctly, get your vet 15 minutes ago. My horse had an ulcer that we started ABX and it looked good the next day, but day 2 her whole cornea turned white. I called the vet right away and we found that it was indeed a fungus, not a bacteria. After 3 weeks at the vet school and 5 weeks at home with every 2-4 hour medications, we had to enucleate her eye.

              Probably, you have caught it in time, but make no mistake about the severity of this. We got RIGHT on it and she still lost her eye.

              However, I know of many horses from this board who did just fine and still compete as before. Good luck!
              We need health care reform, not insurance reform. Health care for ALL!


              • #8
                Yes - my mare had a melting corneal ulcer from HELL. Vet came out right away then called the specialist who came out (and he doesn't do farm calls but did on this one). Specialist looked at me and said how fast can you get her to an emergency hospital so I hooked up my trailer and off we went. Thankfully I have an amazing equine hospital ten miles from me! My mare spent four days there - had a SPL tube put in and was treated hourly for the first couple of days then every couple of hours, etc. When I picked her up I then had to treat her eye w/ numerous meds (via the SPL tube) four times a day for almost two months. She did lose some vision and does have some scarring which you can clearly see on her eye. We almost had to do surgery on her to remove the eye but quick thinking on my vets part and the specialist helped avoid that route. She is now spooky on that side and she never was before - her first reaction is to bolt 20-30 feet then stop and turn around and look w/ her good eye. She now wears a fly mask 24/7 from spring until late fall and then daily during winter (the glare from the snow isn't good for her). I check her eyes daily too. My mare was doing jumpers but the following year was diagnosed w/ Kissing Spines so she is my pasture pet now but she did adjust to the vision loss. I've had other horses who were blind in one eye and did just fine - you just have to remember that their field of vision is different. Hope your guy turns out ok .

                (ps. my bill ended up being around $3000 when all was said and done...)
                "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