Horses are known for their massive stature and majestic features. Everything from their muscular physique to their large, lovely eyes leaves us in awe. However, just as horses can injure their joints and muscles quite easily, ocular trauma is common due to their eyes’ unique size and shape and can become dangerous if not treated quickly.

“There are several features of the equine eye that makes it quite vulnerable to injury and anatomical features of the equine skull that contribute to this increased risk for injury,” said Dr. Leslie Easterwood, assistant clinical professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences in College Station. “The equine head features a complete bony orbital rim and globes that protrude on each side, leaving the eyes vulnerable to injury.”

Ocular injuries in horses should not be taken lightly, she added. If you suspect that your horse is showing signs of abnormality, it must be evaluated promptly and accurately.

“Owners should be counseled to consider any abnormality involving the eye as cause for concern requiring prompt veterinary attention,” said Easterwood. “Owners should watch out for squinting, tearing, lid swelling, corneal opacity, and facial asymmetry.”

The first step you should take when evaluating a horse with ocular or orbital trauma is a complete physical examination.  It is also important that their neurologic status is evaluated prior to considering sedation for the ocular examination.

“Sedation in the face of an undiagnosed neurologic injury could result in a lowered threshold for seizures,