Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Seriousness of Eye Injuries in Horses

A little while ago I noticed Copper had some cloudiness on the left-hand outside edge of his right eye.

I’ve kept a close eye (ha.) on it, but couldn’t decide whether or not I should call a vet out to look at it. As it turns out, I left it too late...

horse eye by nicole zeug 
I was chatting to one of the ladies at the horse yards, and found out that she’s had similar experiences with two of her horses before. She was saying that you can’t leave eyes – ever.

Any sign of an eye injury and the horse needs to go the vet ASAP.  The tiniest scratch or scrape to the cornea will often ulcerate and cause a cataract to develop.

I then remembered that a while back Copper had a half-shut, puffy, swollen right eye – I had manipulated it gently to see what was up with it and a small flake of dried grass had slipped out. He seemed to have immediate relief, and opened his eye up straight away.  The swelling subsided the next day and he seemed normal.

But apparently all was not well. It took quite a long time for the cloudiness to show up, so I didn’t put the two and two together. Until now.

Swollen, puffy eye + hay flake = scratch -> cataract.

But I didn’t know back then that my standard “Wait & See” principal for minor wounds cannot be applied to eye problems. Never, ever, nuh-uh, no-no-no. You can’t necessarily see if there’s been any damage and of course, you don’t want to risk an ulcer or a cataract.

It’s too late for Copper now unfortunately, but thankfully the cataract that developed on the edge of his eye doesn’t seem to be affecting him too much. I have noticed that he does spook more when we are out on a trail ride, and he certainly gives stuff that he might have ignored previously much more of a closer inspection.

But he’s still forward and bold, so I think he’s adjusting quite well to the impairment of his eyesight so far. The changes in his behavior have been hardly noticeable, so I’m confident he will be fine, though I really wish I had caught this earlier. It might mean that we can’t do much jumping, like I was hoping to, but I guess we’ll have to see how that goes.

One thing for sure, from now on I will never ever let any slightly suspicious eye action go without an immediate visit to the vet. 

See ya,



  1. Yikes :( I'm glad the scratch is at the corner.

    1. ME TOO!! Like, you don't even know how much I am breathing a huge sigh of relief that it's at the corner. It could have been so disastrous any further across his cornea. :'((


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