Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Corneal Ulcer - Ahhh!

As every horse owner soon learns, you have to ride the horse you have that day... at times this means not riding at all but instead tending to an injury.

Yesterday after work, I went out to the barn to keep working on our canter over ground poles, but wouldn't you know it, Abbey had a swollen right eye with a little yellowish discharge. My trainer, "K", was away judging a county fair on the other side of the state, but luckily she is awesome about taking calls about this kind of thing no matter when or where she is.

I told her that there was a small cloudy circle, about 1 cm in diameter that I could see on that eye.

Not a photo of Abbey. Photo taken from website here to illustrate the cloudy look the lens of the eye can get.


She said it was evidence of a scratch and that we should treat it with Gentax (gentomycin) which is an antibiotic that treats gram-negative bacteria which can cause a secondary infection of the cornea, leading to more serious complications. We also gave one gram of bute to reduce inflammation and irritation so she would not be tempted to rub her eye and aggravate the ulcer. Lastly, I did some cold compresses (lucky for us we have ice-cold well water here in Michigan!) with a clean towel for about 10 minutes. Again, this is to reduce swelling. She is also on stall rest to keep her out of the bright sun and sandy paddock where she might irritate it even more.

I didn't call a vet out because K has a lifetime of experience with horses, and unless it gets worse then I feel confident in her plan for treatment. Luckily K has everything we need on-hand at the barn.

Good news is she is an A+ patient when she is injured, so I was able to administer the Gentax to her eye by myself by holding the upper and lower lids open with one hand and carefully squeezing the ointment in with the other hand. I am a little nervous about cross-contamination because the tube of ointment I used is also being used on another pony in the barn, who has a similar injury. I guess this is an Rx, so I cant just order more... may just use the extra tube K has on hand and pay her for that... hmmmm.

Abbey's Eye Day 1
Puffy top lid won't open fully, and she holds it closed most of the time.

K said she probably got the ulcer from a piece of debris in the pasture, but I wonder if it was caused by me hosing her face off... we are practicing standing nicely for that and there was a lot of head tossing and eye rolling when I first started with that on Sunday afternoon, so the water pressure may have caused some trauma, or may have washed something into her eye. I then turned her out and she rolled right in the sand, rubbing her head everywhere in the sandy pasture, which also could have done it. I think I will let her dry all the way from now on in case her face was still wet and that caused the sand to stick to her face.

This morning, I went back out to check on her and see how see is doing. Swelling is much reduced, eye is open again, but I can still see the cloudy spot, which is not any bigger. I googled some things to see what I could learn, while trying not to freak myself out. It's a tough balance.

I found a good article here about corneal ulcers in horses here. It is a little scary ready about all the things that can happen, but good to know what to look for in case it worsens.

So, I am really hoping that Abbey is better in time to leave for the show this weekend, but I am going to keep her home if it's not fully resolved because I don't want to risk her sight for one weekend of fun.

I will post another update tonight after I go back out to check on it - we aren't out of the woods yet!

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