OK, I have had enough of Tony this and Tony that. I’m taking over this week. Welcome to Tuesdays with Teannie. That’s right, I’m the cuter and smarter cat at Springhill Equine, and this week I’m writing about eyes. I should point out I don’t have any, but that story is what makes me qualified to write this week’s blog.
I started life with two normal eyes. Along the way I got infected with a Herpes virus. Herpes is the same virus that causes rhinopneumonitis in horses. In horses and cats this usually presents as a bit of a cold. Sometimes it goes elsewhere and causes all kinds of problems. In horses, it can also cause abortions in pregnant mares and a neurologic disease. In cats, it can cause the immune system to attack the eyes. This is what happened to me. It took years and years, and Dr. Lacher tried pretty much every treatment available, but eventually they couldn’t save my eyes. Along the way I have become an expert in eyes.
I’m going to start with the obvious. If there is redness, swelling, or a lot of tears, call Springhill Equine. These are pretty good indicators of a problem, and the earlier a problem is addressed, the better the outcome (I lived on the streets for a while just trying to keep a roof over my head, so don’t judge me that I didn’t get proper care). To start, our Docs are going to use a special device called an ophthalmoscope to look in the eye. They claim this is to get good light and magnification. Personally, I think they like shining a bright light in my eye to torture me. I get back at them by standing in front of computer screens and stepping on keyboards. Next a special stain called flourescein is put in the eye. This stain shows if any of the surface layer of cells is gone. You want a negative flourescein result. Negative here means all is good. Positive means you have long nights and days, or your horse has an all-expense-paid trip to Springhill Equine.
With their big bug eyes set on the side of their heads and their propensity to stick their heads where they don’t belong and then get scared, horses are very prone to ulcers. So that’s problem number one with horse eyes. Next, we live in Florida and we grow fungus here. Put bug eyes and fungus together and chaos follows. This is why if you call with a question about an eye, our Docs freak out a little bit and move the Earth to get you on the schedule that day. All eyes get treated like they have a bacterial and fungal infection, no matter what. They also get a wee bit obsessive-compulsive about rechecking the eye to make sure it’s going to the right direction. Treatments are sometimes done every hour!
Sometimes horses, and let’s be honest, cats, are… umm… difficult to treat. Eye treatments sting! The Docs have a few tricks up their sleeves to help. They always give horses (and this cat) treats with EVERY eye medication. They also have a device called a sub-palpebral lavage system. Using a really, really big needle, they put a long tube through the eyelid which lets you stand at the withers to inject medications which are then delivered to the eye.
If the worst happens and the eye can’t be saved, then a procedure called an enucleation is performed. This is the fancy word our Docs use for taking the eye out. Here’s where my experience comes in. Please do not worry about your horse missing an eye. I lost my left eye first and certainly didn’t miss it a lick. In fact, without the constant pain, I was loving life. I would run around and attack Tony, chase my tail, and knock papers off the desk. When my right eye began hurting, I was back to moping around the clinic. Dr. Lacher decided to let me slowly go fully blind so I could better adjust to life with no eyes. Once they removed my right eye, I was right back to running this joint. I still stalk Tony, I still stand directly in front of the computer screen, I know exactly where the escape key is on the keyboard, and I am loving life as the smart cat at Springhill Equine. Moral of this story: if you think something is wrong with your horse’s eye, call Springhill Equine!