Cataracts in horses eyes - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 11-27-2019, 04:35 PM Thread Starter
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Cataracts in horses eyes

Has anyone had any experience with horses going blind/ loosing their sight? My gelding has white spots in his left eye which I’m concerned about but he oddly won’t allow you to approach him from the right side of his body in the paddock and will run away. He also drifts right coming into jumps which makes me think he can’t see very well out of his right eye as he turns his head to see what’s approaching. Over the past year things have become worse and he is now vary cautious in the paddock and also whilst being ridden. I was keen to get an opinion on it before I take him to the vet as we can be charged over $1000 and would have to travel over 6 hours to get to a qualified eye vet just for a consolation to see if there is something to be concerned about. Just wanting to know if I’m being paranoid before I take him to the vet to investigate further! I tried to attach photos of his eyes to show the difference but not sure if they’ve uploaded. Thanks
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post #2 of 7 Old 11-27-2019, 07:26 PM
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Only a veterinary ophthalmologist can tell you. But his behavior does sound suspiciously like eye issues.

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post #3 of 7 Old 11-27-2019, 10:42 PM
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I'm not a vet, but I am a human eye doctor.

Based on the pictures you posted, your horses eyes appear perfectly normal. However, there's a really good reflection off the cornea in both pictures so it's impossible to see what the deeper layers look like.

If you've had behavior issues you have noticed with your horse, your gut is usually right. I would personally spend the money and time to haul to a specialist if I thought something was wrong. You usually know your own horse the best, and know if there is a problem.

Can you provide any better pictures? It might work to shine a flashlight onto the eye from the side, as that can help transilluminate some of the deeper structures. Based on what you shared, I don't see any white spots that you talk about.

It's not labeled in this picture, but cataracts form in the crystalline lens, which is the large structure in this picture between what's labeled "pupil" and " vitreous chamber". A cataract is a yellowing or clouding of this normally clear structure.

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post #4 of 7 Old 11-27-2019, 11:27 PM
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We've got a blind donkey who had retinal detachment happen to her at some early stage of her life. You can actually see it when you look into her pupils - folded rainbow-coloured stuff. At least you used to be able to, because she's been running cataracts these last two years and now both her eyes are cloudy (she's mid-20s). She's OK because she roams with her social group and has compensated well - she has seeing-eye donkeys with her, so to speak, and a map of the place in her head.

The one on the right - before she got cataracts:

Her pupils are uniformly milky from her cataracts.

You can get white spots in horse eyes from old eye injuries, e.g. I saw that with a mare who got poked by a fine wire sticking out of a tree protected from horse teeth with chicken wire (not the best thing to do for animals or tree - just fence the tree so the ground around it doesn't get trampled by horses either). However, that's only one possible explanation. I would think that any white areas have been damaged, though, whatever the cause.
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Last edited by SueC; 11-27-2019 at 11:33 PM.
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post #5 of 7 Old 12-02-2019, 03:08 AM Thread Starter
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Thankyou everyone for your help. I’ve just added on another photo which shows his eye slightly better. I’ll work on getting some better photos. The pink bits in his eye is actually a reflection of the watermelons on my phone case, but I’m just concerned about the white spotting near the bottom of his eye. I think I will take him to a specialist vet to get him checked over even just to give me some peace of mind.
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post #6 of 7 Old 12-02-2019, 04:58 AM
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I am not a vet. The white spots you are talking about are on his iris (the brown part) so that wouldn’t be a cataract. A cataract would be seen as a clouding of the dark “hole” in the iris. Regardless, he is showing some signs of eye issues so having him examined is a great idea. Just to give you a bit of optimism, my mare is blind in one eye but we don’t have many issues because of that and I am far from a pro rider, I am a middle aged novice. We even jump (tiny jumps, because of me). Best of luck.
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post #7 of 7 Old 12-02-2019, 05:22 AM
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And, just adding that the white spots your horse has in the iris are not like the white spots I was talking about post penetrative eye injuries - the ones I was describing were in the cornea, not in the underlying structures.

The only change to an iris in a horse that I've seen is the appearance of a darker area after an idiot bashed a horse in the face with an iron bar, catching the eyeball. Thankfully the eye remained functional, but the iris seemed to have been traumatised below the impact point and to scar / change in response to it.

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