Dr. Bourke’s phone rang recently with a call from this mare’s very concerned owner. She found the mare squinting her eye late in the evening and wasn’t sure what to do so she called us. Dr. Bourke started the mare on medications that evening and the owner brought her in to Springhill Equine the next morning. Spice was holding her right eye closed, squinting, and didn’t want Dr. Lacher to touch her eye. A few treats were handed out to let Spice know we were here to help. Dr. Lacher placed a green stain in the eye and found it stayed stuck to the cornea on the outside half. The green stain is called Flourescein and it shows us where the cornea is missing its top layer.
Spice was started on additional eye medications to combat a wide variety of fungus, bacteria, and the pain that comes from a corneal ulcer. We always give a little treat with these medications so the horses thing it’s a fun game. Spice came back in a few days for Dr. Bourke to check on her progress. Unfortunately when Dr. Bourke re-checked her the ulcer wasn’t doing any better and was even a little bit worse. One concern we always have is how much of the eye medications get into the eye but in this case Spice was being given treats every time her eye was treated so she thought eye medications were wonderful! Dr. Bourke used a sterile Q-tip to sample the cornea itself and see what was going on. This picture was what was going on and unfortunately those straight purple lines are fungus.
Fungus is a common problem in our hot, humid weather here in Florida. And summertime is full of hot, humid, and even downright wet weather! Those large eyes horses have just love to get stuff in them and horses love to rub them on things when the gnats get bad. This can lead to a small scratch and Voila! fungus has a way in. Because of the prevalence of fungus in Florida, Dr. Lacher and Dr. Bourke always start any ulcer on anti-fungal therapy. Dr. Lacher and Dr. Bourke start with ointments 4-6 times per day, atropine to dilate the eye and reduce pain daily, and Banamine twice daily to help manage pain.
Our Doctors then check in with a phone call, text, or e-mail every day to make sure things are going well and perform a recheck exam and stain of the eye. We know life gets difficult so to make things easier staying with us at Springhill Equine is great for complicated eye cases!
Sometimes even with great owner and easy-to-treat horses the fungus gets ahead of us. For those cases we place a special type of catheter in the eye that lets us treat them with more powerful liquid medications. We give these horses lots of treats with every medication! Staying at the hospital is perfect for these cases so Dr. Bourke, Dr. Lacher and I can monitor them every day. As the eye improves we slowly decrease the medications until we are back to ointments a couple times per day.
Questions about eyes? Give my Docs a call! This is Tony hoping your food bowl is full and your litter box is clean!