Management of Blind Horses Discussed at Equine Ophthalmology Meeting

Blind horses can usually get by with a little help from a friend; or, in this case, a trustworthy companion horse, said Ann Dwyer, DVM, a private practitioner with a strong interest in equine ophthalmology and co-owner of Genesee Valley Equine Clinic LLC in upstate New York. She spoke at the first AAEP Focus on Ophthalmology meeting, held in Raleigh, N.C., in October.

Uveitis is

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Blind horses can usually get by with a little help from a friend; or, in this case, a trustworthy companion horse, said Ann Dwyer, DVM, a private practitioner with a strong interest in equine ophthalmology and co-owner of Genesee Valley Equine Clinic LLC in upstate New York. She spoke at the first AAEP Focus on Ophthalmology meeting, held in Raleigh, N.C., in October.

Uveitis is a leading cause of blindness in horses. It's responsible for blindness in nearly 50% of affected horses. Other causes include cataracts with or without luxation (dislocation) of the lens, glaucoma, retinal detachment or damage, penetrating or blunt trauma, and neoplasia.

Horses seem to tolerate a gradual loss of vision better than rapid or acute loss. Newly blind horses might be anxious and fearful, but this response is usually brief, typically lasting under three weeks, after which time the horse begins to adapt to being blind. It is important to note no horse should be ridden during the time they are adjusting to being blind due to the increased fear and anxiety behaviors they typically express.

Many blind horses adapt to their condition more quickly with the presence of a calm, full sighted pasture and/or barn mate. Blind horses will often use this companion as their "seeing eye"

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Written by:

Kristen Slater, DVM, practices with Kasper & Rigby Veterinary Associates in Magnolia, Texas. Her practice interests include preventive medicine, reproduction, sports rehabilitation, and conditioning.

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