META's Second Newsletter:
Trail User Encounter Clinic Series Kick-Off

Equine Eye Infection

Sore eye Willie has an eye infection. The eye is half closed and tearing continually. It's very painful.

There is unceration (a gray film and a couple of white dots over the eyeball).

It likely started with getting something it the eye, scratching the eyball on something etc.

Two weeks of treatment so far and not much improvement. This could go on for months with me working to get meds into Willies eye and Willie working to keep me away from his eye.

The last one he had about 4 years ago did last months, but it wasn't as hard to medicate for some reason. There may come some talk of removing the eye. But that will include much contemplation over how well he will heal from surgery as he has cushings and therefore supressed immune system. And he is 28 years old.

This is what we're doing (me directed by the vet) Week one:


The pupil was constricted and that causes more pain. Also continued restriction of the pupil can lead to blindness. The vet used atrophine to open the pupil. Then Willie had to wear his flymask with ductape over the the right 1/2 of it to keep the sun out.

Week Two:Week2

As you can see in week two list we had more trouble with the pupil. And then the worry over the chance that the atrophine would cause a colic episode! It didn't.

The gray film and Willie's pain level keeping the eye half closed, made it real hard to see what the pupil was doing! Then I discovered that the red light on my little LED headlamp looked right through the gray film!! And it didn't cause further Wincing from Willie.

We also added SMZ's to the mix on the second week: 20 twice a day.

This is what poor Willies feed bucket looked like twice a day:

Meds to go 

From top to bottom:

Two little needless syringes, one with the 2 types of eye drops (#6,7 from above list) mixed together, the other with his own blood serum (#8) to fight any posible  auto-immune response. (those are in the larger plastic capped tube to keep them clean) 

Eye ointments (#3,4). Injectable pain med #1. Injectable pain med #2. The Ointment #5 on the list--never heard of vaginal antifungle being used in the eye. Just goes to show: You learn something new every day.

And the 20 SMZs in the oral syringe. Just visible sticking out from under the plastic bag is a small syringe containing the usual Cushing med (oral pergolide) which he only gets once a day.

Click here for information on preparing SMZs for the oral syringe. 

In case you're interested: Willie eats Blue Seal Vintage Senior (ectruded feed with low sugars) and pelletted hay. He still gets free choice baled hay too. Even though he ends up having to spit out many of the mouthfulls he wads up in his old teeth and finds he cannot swallow, he still loves having it to work on. I know he still gets down a fair amount, and he has not yet choked, so I continue.

If you happen to notice the doses are sort of large, that's because Willie is sort of large, ~1800lbs

Willie is a boarder. He is a retired dressage school horse who's generous owner foots the board and all other bills for this old faithful worker.

Week three starts today. I don't have a new list just directions to repeat the week two list without the butorphanol (pain med #2)



Ugh, what a nightmare. Any idea what he originally scratched it on?

There's a LOT of thorny stuff in my horses' round roll this time. I noticed it a couple of days ago and started worrying about eye scrapes. When I see the barn owner tomorrow I'm going to have to diplomatically tell her it's not acceptable :(

Anyway, I've heard of treating thrush in the foot with Monistat. I suppose an anti-fungal is an anti-fungal, and better a cheap OTC human preparation than mail ordering an expensive compounded equine one with the same ingredients.


Hi Funder,
A healthy horse can heal up a little scatch with no infection. Horses with impared immune systems are the worrisome ones. Willie also has reduced vision so it could have happened on anything. I would not concern myself with a round bale that is twiggy / stemmy other than to be dissapointed to have excess waste (however, stemmy can mean it was baled after the grass was very mature and posibly less nutritious). Horses are grazers and come equipt with all the sensory feedback sensitivity required to keep them out of harms way, IF they can see well and have NOT had important long feeler hairs shaved from their faces and round their eyes.


Hey Leigh, did you get my e-mail about picking up the red-light therapy for using on his eye? Couldn't believe how fast it cleared up the kitten's, big change in 2 days!


I have a horse that has a stromal abscess and anterior chamber uveitis(an eye infection from something going into his eye). he had to have surgery to remove some of the cornea and has a eye catheter in, which now Iam giving him injections with ofloxacin every 4 hours. and trying to get the eye to dilate with atropine, which so far is not working very well, his eye only dilates a little. and he gets banamine every 12 hours...this all started the weekend before Thanksgiving...The grayness is getting better and the eye is very red and still painful..I see your guy is on more meds and different meds..I wounder if this all I should be doing? between surgery and stuff It cost quite abit. I did show this page to my vet...My guy is a 3 year old and I would hate for him to have to lose his eye...i was wondering about the red light? It is hard for me to see in his eye. The only problem with the fly mask on with the duck tape over his eye is that he can get a good scratch in by rubbing, i guess the mask feels good to scratch on. So I don't use the mask because I'm afraid he will pull the cath. out...any input would be greatly appreciated..Thanks

Edna leigh

We talked about a catheter for old Willie. I would be interested to know in more detail your experience with the system.
Willies test came back saying that there was no bacteria or fungus in the eye (no infection)he just couldn't heal the wound. He had other issues as well and was very old. So the choice was made to put him down rather than making him go through painful procedures he might not have been able to heal from. I don't have other eye experience to draw from in order to help you. Your horse is young and of course you should try to save the eye. I would always advise a second opinion whenever you doubt your vet. Many vets confer with each other on a regular basis, and are open to discussion on alternatives. Practicing medicine is an artfrom as well as a science. Please feel free to contact Pam about the red light therapy by clicking on her name. She has healed some interesting things with this therapy. Maybe she can help you find a unit in your area. Let me know how it works out.

laser eye correction

Thats eye infection happen to my boss dog that was very painful and I saw how they put an medication on mickey's eye and you feel how painful it is because she cry. How's Willie now?


leah wigglesworth

hi i am haveing to make that awful descision as to have my old ponys eye removed or have him put to sleep like willie my micky is 28 years old and has cushings, i can,t sleep with worry ,i just want tthe descision to be the right one i only have till tuesday to make my mind up but i dont want to put him through the surgery the vets give him metacam its seems such a shame he cant eat his hay anymore he,s on alfa adlib but he still calls for me every morning at 7oclock im worried the op will be too much for him yet putting him to sleep is so final


I feel for you in this Leah. It is very final and seems like a huge responsibility while you are struggling with it! But try and look at it from the horses perspective. He has had a great life with you (I can tell from the amount of love in your words). He has not one moments worry about tomorrow, and is in agreement with whatever you decide, and he understands it comes from a place of love. That is the sacred pact between the horse and God. Take care Leah, And don't feel guilt over having to consider practical matters like money. Most of us have been there.

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