Equine Corneal Ulcer Cytology: Why and How

Cytology allows vets to correctly diagnose a corneal ulcer’s underlying cause and institute appropriate therapy.
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Equine Corneal Ulcer Cytology: Why and How
“Successful resolution of corneal ulcers requires targeted therapy, and this can only be achieved by performing corneal cytology (sampling cells to view under a microscope),” said Dwyer. | iStock

Corneal ulcers—loss of or damage to tissue on the outer surface of the eye—occur commonly in horses. While some corneal ulcers might not be particularly challenging for veterinarians to treat, many others are complicated by infection with either bacteria or fungi, foreign bodies, inflammatory reactions that cause tissue to swell and “melt,” and more, and require more intensive diagnostics and treatment.

Ann Dwyer, DVM, a private equine practitioner at Genesee Valley Equine Clinic, in Scottsville, New York, and a former American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) president, has a special interest in ophthalmology and often presents on the topics at veterinary meetings. The 2017 AAEP Convention, held Nov. 17-21 in San Antonio, Texas, was no exception. There she shared her wisdom gained from treating many equine eye problems.

Dwyer said one of the first items a veterinarian reaches for when faced with a painful eye is fluorescein stain—a green dye that does not adhere to normal corneal epithelial tissue but binds with deeper layers of the stroma of the eye to show the location and extent of a corneal defect

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Written by:

Stacey Oke, MSc, DVM, is a practicing veterinarian and freelance medical writer and editor. She is interested in both large and small animals, as well as complementary and alternative medicine. Since 2005, she’s worked as a research consultant for nutritional supplement companies, assisted physicians and veterinarians in publishing research articles and textbooks, and written for a number of educational magazines and websites.

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