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Cliffe Equine Vets offer a full first opinion and a referral service for all eye conditions of the horse.  Eye problems in the horse are common, and vary from mild conjunctivitis through to sight-threatening conditions that may ultimately result in the loss of an eye, if untreated.


Complete examination of the eye requires a dark area; if the eye is painful, sedation and even nerve blocks may be necessary. Most examinations can be performed at your yard in a darkened stable (particularly appointments at the end of the day in winter months!); however, we may recommend examination at the clinic, if necessary.  If you cannot provide a darkened area, then arranging the initial examination at the clinic may allow us to identify the problem more easily and save you repeated visits and money.


Treatment of some eye conditions can be difficult for a few reasons.  Horses with painful eye conditions, such as uveitis; corneal ulceration or foreign bodies; will resent you applying drops or ointment.  In addition, it is these cases that require the most intensive treatment, often involving 1-2 hourly medication in the initial phases; and this always involves topical drugs.

Failure to treat eye problems can result in rapid deterioration of the condition and ultimately, loss of the eye. Because of this, we offer hospitalisation to our eye patients, particularly for the first few days, when treatment at home can be unachievable.

In some cases the eye can be very fragile, or your horse may simply not let you apply drops.  In these cases, we can place a subpalpebral lavage system.  This is a long, very soft, narrow silicone tube which we place through the eyelid to rest underneath the lid, tucked away in the conjunctiva.  The tube runs along the horses neck, ending by the withers.  Drops can be injected through this tube gently, medicating the eye indirectly.  The lavage tube can be left in for prolonged durations but requires careful monitoring of the position of the tube is necessary.  Owners often choose to admit these cases to our clinic.


In the event that we are very concerned about a particular case, or feel the case would benefit from further expertise and treatment, we recommend an in-house referral to our ophthalmology consultant, Denise Moore MA VetMB CertVOphthal MRCVS VN, from VetEyes.  Denise generally examines patients at our clinic, because we have the necessary facilities to ensure you receive the best information.  On rare occasions, depending on facilities available, we can organise appointments with Denise at your yard.


Eye pain is considered a veterinary emergency, so please contact us if you are concerned.