7 Eye Disorders that Affect Horses

7 Disorders of the Equine Eye

The Eyes Have It

There are so many illnesses and diseases that can affect the health of a horse. Today’s post is the beginning of a series of posts that are going to discuss the different health issues that horses can develop and how each part of the horses body is affected.

“When a horse greets you with a nicker and regards you with a large and liquid eye,
the question of where you want to be has been answered.”

~ Author Unknown

Today’s post is going to focus on the those beautiful eyes that we love.

Diagnosis of a vision problem begins with a complete eye exam. In some cases referral to a veterinary eye specialist (ophthalmologist) is necessary. Ophthalmologists have expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases. If the cause of the visual disturbance is not evident on examination alone, an electrical test of retinal function (electroretinogram or ERG) may be required. Refraction to look for near-or far-sightedness is also done if necessary.

Common Disorders of the Equine Eye

7 Disorders of the Equine Eye #horses #peachwood #eyedisorders

Corneal Ulcers

Corneal ulcers are one of the most common acquired ocular diseases in the horse. A corneal ulcer is a break in the surface layer of the cornea. Ulcers usually develop secondary to trauma, often from plant material; for example: tree branches, straw scratching the eye.

Early detection and appropriate therapy of a corneal ulcer will reduce the chances of a serious complication such as loss of the eye.


Signs of a corneal ulcer include:

  • redness of the eye
  • tearing
  • squinting
  • opacities in the cornea
  • and roughened or irregular areas on the corneal surface.


Veterinarians diagnose corneal ulcers using fluorescein staining.


Uveitis is inflammation of the uveal tissue inside the eye.


The clinical signs of uveitis include:

  • redness of the eye
  • squinting
  • tearing
  • cloudiness of the cornea or ocular fluid
  • a small or constricted pupil
  • iris color changes (e.g. yellowing of a normally blue iris or darkening of a brown iris).

Uveitis is treated with topical and oral anti-inflammatory medications and drops to dilate the pupil.

Equine Recurrent Uveitis

Equine recurrent uveitis (ERU) is uveitis that reappears over and over with new episodes triggered by the immune system. In some horses, rather than recurring episodes of overt inflammation, there is ongoing, low-grade inflammation that is never resolved. With this ongoing or recurring inflammation, permanent damage is done to structures inside the eye. This includes the iris becoming stuck down to the lens, cataract formation in the lens, corneal scarring, retinal detachments, retinal scarring, and retinal and optic nerve degeneration. Eventually, these changes lead to permanent blindness.

ERU is the most common cause of blindness in the horse and it is a painful condition.


This is a condition in which the fluid in the eye cannot drain properly and builds up causing increased pressure inside the eye. This leads to permanent damage to the retina and optic nerve and eventual blindness. Glaucoma may occur on its own, but is most commonly a secondary effect of chronic or recurrent uveitis in the horse.


Some of the most common clinical signs of glaucoma include:

  • redness
  • tearing
  • a cloudy cornea
  • a dilated or enlarged pupil
  • an enlarged globe
  • vision loss


Cataracts are opacities within the lens. They may be small and cause very little visual disturbance, or they may involve more of the lens and cause blindness.


The clinical signs of cataracts include:

  • a white lens or
  • white discoloration in the pupil opening.

Cataracts may be inherited or occur secondary to trauma, or chronic inflammation (such as a consequence of ERU). Some foals are born with cataracts (congenital cataracts) and these may be inherited but may also occur related to maternal or environmental influences (maternal fever, poor nutrition, toxin exposure during pregnancy etc.).

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

This is the most common cancer of the equine eye region.

It occurs commonly on:

  • the third eyelid
  • conjunctiva
  • cornea
  • eyelids and may spread to involve the orbit.

Older horses, those with white skin around the eyelids, and those exposed to ultraviolet light are most at risk. The tumor may appear as a pink, raised, roughened mass. It may also appear as erosive sores when involving the eyelids. It is common for this tumor to spread into local tissues, and it may spread to distant sites as well. Treatment depends on the location and size of the tumor.

To see pictures of these conditions, click here.

Corneal Lacerations

Most often lacerations are due to a blow, like a kick or running into a fixed object. This is an immediate emergency and is most often referred to an ophthalmologist or a surgeon to achieve the best results.

Clinical signs include:

  • a prolapsed iris
  • hyphema (blood inside of the globe)
  • hypopyon (pus in the eye)
  • photophobia – extreme sensitivity to light.
  • epiphoria – a watering of the eyes due to excessive secretion of tears or to obstruction of the lacrimal passages.
  • swollen eyelids
  • squinting
  • and most often there is a defect on the cornea.

Treatment is focused on decreasing further damage to the intraocular structures of the eye and repairing the integrity and pressure of the globe.

It is interesting that horses can have the same eye disorders that we can. Let’s keep an eye on our horse’s eye and keep them healthy!








Does Your Daughter Need a Horse? She Sure Does! Part 2

She will meet boarders of all ages and levels of experience.

Having a horse boarded at Peachwood Horse Boarding offers a daily interaction for your ladies with people of all ages. We have men and women of all age groups and vocations. The boarders also have different breeds of horses to learn about and they have different skill sets. Being able to speak with a barrel racer, or a carriage driver can spark different interests in the different disciplines.


This can be an excellent opportunity for your daughter to make friends and there will always be something to share with others.

A horse will teach her humility.

It doesn’t take rocket science to own a horse, but there is a learning curve. She will soon find out what she does and doesn’t know about her horse. Her horse will be a great teacher. She will learn that she will not always get her lessons correct, but she has a wonderful animal that will work with her until she does get it right.

She will be taught by others what she is doing correctly or incorrectly and what to do to improve on the incorrect parts. The best thing she can do is listen. Horse owners have been there and done that. It would be wise of her to learn from their mistakes instead of experiencing them on her own.

Haille Margarite teaching Horsemanship 101 to a young lady.

A horse will keep her active.

She is going to be lifting, pushing, pulling, grooming, sweating, bending, stooping and eating dirt when she gets a horse. Many cowgirls have fantastic figures and they work hard for them.


She will develop her learning skills.

We all don’t learn the same way. Some just need to read a book, while some need to be told exactly what to do. Then there are those of us who need the hands on approach. Horse ownership is definitely hands on. She will improve that learning skill with positive activities and translate that to her school work and all other things she will learn in the future.


Still not convinced? Contact Haille Margarite for an introduction to horse ownership.

10 Health Benefits of Owning a Horse

I was looking for a list of benefits of horse ownership and I came across this article by Samir Becic, 4 times Number 1 Fitness Trainer in the world.

Top 10 Health Benefits of Owning a Horse:

  • Keeps you physically active: Riding and other activities that require you to be outdoors in all kinds of weather will certainly keep you moving. Cleaning stalls, grooming, feeding, raking hay, pushing wheelbarrows – all of these barn chores actively burn calories and build muscle.
  • It builds self confidence: While horse riding is an independent sport, it’s actually a partnership in which the owner is a teacher and leader who works with the horse. Nothing builds self confidence better than “leadership training.” When you tell a 1,000-pound animal to move in a certain direction, and then to follow you, it’s a feeling of accomplishment that you successfully taught it to do that. And when the horse does not comply, you are responsible for administering the proper discipline. That’s a form of empowerment that’s only found working with large animals.
  • Reduces stress: Recent studies have shown that even limited interaction with animals may provide a decrease in blood pressure and in the hormones associated with stress reactions. Physical exercise is a scientifically recognized mediator of stress and it is clear that equine activities may provide exercise, again highlighting the potential for equine activities to reduce stress.horse-brushing
  • Keeps you socially active: Taking riding lessons helps you meet many friends with similar interests. Most horse people will attest to meeting their best, life-long friends at the barn. These peers will have the same passion and devotion to horses. That connection creates a stronger bond just in itself.
  • Helps disabled individuals stay active: When supervised by certified instructors, riders with disabilities may have the chance to safely perform physical activities with the horse as a tool. Early research is showing that riding a horse may provide physical benefits for people with disabilities. At the same time, interacting with horses may provide mental benefits, as well.
  • Engages the creative side of your brain: Training a horse brings up daily challenges that will force you to think creatively about how to train it and how to solve a particular problem. If something worked in the last lesson, but it’s not working now, how else can you solve this issue? Being faced with such situations helps you engage your creativity to solve problems and find what works best.
  • Builds character: Character building is a natural part of horse ownership, teaching responsibility, punctuality, sportsmanship, frugality, patience, commitment, confidence and self-esteem.


  • It promotes a union with nature: Being outside and enjoying the fresh air can do wonders for your mental and physical health. Plus, the dose of vitamin D you get from being in the sunshine is essential for your body.
  • Maintains bone mass: All of the weight-bearing exercise that you do, including hauling barn equipment and carrying saddles, helps maintain bone mass, which important as you age.
  • Improves digestion: Riding a horse at a walking pace stimulates the internal organs just as walking on foot does. This aids in liver function and digestion.

If you would like to find out what it is like to be around horses and learn to ride, contact our riding instructor, Haille Margarite to find out more.