Eye injuries and infections are common in horses given the large size and prominence of their eyes. This is just one of the reasons you should check your horses—and not just from over the pasture fence—at least twice daily.
With prompt treatment, many eye problems can be brought under control within a few days. In most cases, a veterinarian should check the eye, but most management can be done by you, at home.
What Are Eye Infections in Horses?
The most common eye issues in horses include bacterial infections and traumatic wounds.
Untreated eye problems can become nasty very quickly. Minor problems can even result in blindness if left untreated. If the eye becomes badly infected, the structures of the eye can be eroded until the entire eye collapses. Eye problems are also extremely painful and for animal welfare, should be treated as soon as possible.
Symptoms of Eye Infections in Horses
Your horse’s eyes should be clear, bright, and the lids tight, with the inside of the lid pale pink and moist. Tearing should be minimal with perhaps only a droplet at the corner of the eye. Sometimes, if there is dusty, dry wind, a horse’s eyes might run a bit, just as yours would.
Symptoms that require treatment include:
Cut or torn eyelids
Obvious damage to the eye itself
White film either over the whole eye or in spots
Red or inflamed eye or of any surrounding tissue, including the white sclera and lids1
Tears running down the horse’s face, which may indicate a blocked tear duct
Copious discharge other than a thin tear-like stream
Tumors growing on or around the lid
In foals, turned under eyelids that cause the eyelashes to rub against the eye