Look Into His Eyes

Your veterinarian has an array of instruments and techniques for examining your horse’s eyes.
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Look Into His Eyes
Smartphones may be easily used to examine and photograph the eye of a horse. | Photo: Dennis E. Brooks, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVO

Editor’s Note: This article was revised by the author to reflect new and updated information in November 2017.


It is important to approach each eye problem in the horse in an ordered and systematic manner, and also as a medical emergency. Painful eye conditions in horses need thorough evaluation for corneal ulcers, corneal abscesses, and uveal inflammatory diseases (such as uveitis or moon blindness). The majority of cases can be diagnosed by using standard ophthalmic clinical examination techniques.

Obtaining a complete history on a horse is important before performing the ophthalmic (eye) examination. Your veterinarian will want to know the environment of the horse, whether there has been intermittent or constant ocular pain, the length of time clinical signs were noted, and any history of previous systemic or ophthalmic disease. If some form of visual disability is suspected, it helps the veterinarian to know the rate of progression of such signs, and how the horse performs under different lighting conditions (is he worse at dusk or in bright light?). Knowledge of prior therapy is important to successful veterinary treatment

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Dennis E. Brooks, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVO, is a professor of ophthalmology at the University of Florida. He has lectured extensively, nationally and internationally, in comparative ophthalmology and glaucoma, and has more than 140 refereed publications. He is a recognized authority on canine glaucoma, and infectious keratitis, corneal transplantation, and glaucoma of horses.

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