The Horse Forum banner
Status
Not open for further replies.
1 - 15 of 15 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
115 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone :)

Last February, I was out of town and got a call from my barn manager that my horse's eye was swollen shut. He said he believed it was a blocked tear duct, and would take care of it until I returned. I returned 3 days later and called out a vet. She told me it looked like he has scratched or damaged his eye, but she couldn't find any cuts using some dyes. She gave me pain medication and a gel that dialated his eye and went on her way. (It was not my normal vet, he wasn't working and I wanted one asap. I did not like this vet very much.)

I planned on having my vet check it out when he was out in a few months to give shots, but after his eye cleared up I forgot all about it. He went on fine.

Last Friday (November 22), I went to the barn and he was swollen again. My vet was not working, again. I called out a highly recommended vet at my barn, and he made it out in an hour. I thought he had damaged it because a new horse has moved next to him and was beating him up pretty bad. This vet also couldn't find any visible scratches, but was bothered by some blueness on his very dark eyes (I had been told by the previous vet that it was normal) and a light ring around the entire thing.

Because this had happened before, this vet said I was most likely dealing with moon blindness. He talked to me about the disease, and gave me his cellphone number and agreed to work closely with me because he hadn't seen the condition in a while.

His symptoms cleared up that night, but my barn manager is keeping him in a small dark box stall while his pupil returns to normal (the vet dilated it). It took 4 days on the first attack.

If this is what I'm dealing with, what are some preparations I can make? I understand that I can not necessarily slow, or eliminate the disease. My current plans are to just keep my horse out of pain, and prepare him as well as I can for vision loss. He is 6 years old, and has been under saddle for a year and a half. It is the left eye if that matter. Just some advice would be great.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,269 Posts
what kind of horse is your horse? Moon blindness is seen in a lot of appaloosa's but it can affect any horse. Some horses benefit from wearing a fly mask year round. The mesh does sort of shield the eyes. Its a fairly slow disease. Some horses get flair ups often that are difficult to control while others have rare flair ups and do well. It really depends on your horse. It might be worth taking your horse to a veterinary ophthalmologist just to have an eye exam. If your current vet has not seen the disease in a long time and the other veterinarians thought the signs were normal it might be worth a visit to a specialist.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,738 Posts
If he does have ERU [the technical name for Moon Blindness is "Equine Recurrent Uveitis - I personally prefer to call it ERU since it feels less "oh no, I have no control over this!" to me..if that makes sense?] there are a couple of things you can do to help him out at this stage.

1. Get him a UV blocking flymask for sunny/snowy days. Kensington brand and Cashel brand masks have 70-something percent UV blocking. More UV blocking is better. There's also a mask on the market called "The Guardian" that I've heard good things about - it blocks, I think, 99% of UV, but it's crazy expensive. Personally, I found a local supplier of 90% UV blocking flymask material so I make my own masks.
Masks whenever it's bright is VERY important. It's a little less dire in the winter [unless it's snowy!] but in the summer, for instance, my mare will have a severe ERU attack if she's left for just a 12 hour period with her eyes unprotected.
I would say that a good mask is probably 65% of prevention.

2. Diet. Diet is SO key. What you feed WILL have a direct effect on his eyes. As you become more aware of his disease, you'll be able to see changes that you can directly relate to food he ate.
You want to be feeding for anti-inflammation and immune support. That means researching what foods encourage inflammation [many oils, corn, etc] and staying away from those, while feeding foods that promote anti-inflammation+healthy immune function [flax seed, MSM/horse-Aspirin, Apple Cider Vinegar, a ration balancer to make sure he's up on vitamins/minerals, etc].
ERU is an auto-immune disease so the healthier you can make your horse's immune system, the better.
For my mare, during the winter, I feed an 1/8C whole flax seed every day for her immune system [flax is also mildly anti-inflammatory but it's forte is the immune system], as well as MSM, Remission [she has Insulin Resistance so this is really a supp to help that...but it's also super anti-inflammatory! haha], and Triple Crown 30%+beet pulp/alfalfa pellets [alfalfa is also anti-inflammatory!].
During the summer she gets a daily painkiller of devil's claw and yucca [she reacts badly to bute + natural pain killers are mildly 'safer' to use long term, compared to bute], MSM, her ration balancer, salt [to help her body flush toxins and whatnot], flax seed, Remission, and ACV.

3. MSM. MSM is, for me, the cornerstone of my feeding plan. Absolutely everything is contingent on MSM. I even have an "emergency" bottle of unopened MSM, in case something happens to my main MSM stockpile.
Some people use Aspirin instead of MSM [they do the same thing, basically, so you don't want to double up], and I have heard of people where MSM really did not help their horse's eyes. You'll have to try to both and see which one works better for you.
Anyway, I like MSM. It's cheaper than Aspirin and, for my mare, works the same as Aspirin does.
For an ERU horse, you go through MSM like crazzzzy. Right now I have a 10lb tub, from horse.com [the cheapest price yet!] in my tack room. It's ridiculous, but it'll only last me 3-4 months! The "eyeball-dose" is double the joint dose - 30,000+mg/day. I like to do it in 2 feedings everyday, 15,000mg in the morning and the same at night. One feeding is fine though, just as long as 30,000+mg gets into him on a daily basis.
MSM is an AMAZING, super safe, anti-inflammatory and since ERU is a disease of inflammation, you can see how it helps.
I tend to think of ERU like a hunting predator who's looking for a weak animal for dinner - ERU is in your horse's body, looking for that one second when inflammation pops up, and the ERU is gonna go grab that inflammation and multiply it as much as it possibly can.

MSM/Aspirin is probably the other 40% [the last 5% is miscellaneous everything] of managing an ERU horse. My mare will basically have an episode within 24 hours if she doesn't get her daily dose/full daily dose - MSM is that crucial for her.
I really cannot overstate how important it is to get your horse on a daily strong anti-inflammatory of either eyeball-dose MSM or Aspirin.

4. The other thing is to start working with your horse on teaching him words to describe his surroundings. He's seeing now but in 15 years, the chances of him being sighted are slim to none. If he already knows words, he'll feel safer making the transition from sight to blindness.
For my mare, I use "careful" to describe uncertain footing, "up" for a big step-over/step-up, and "step" for simple step-overs like a small log in her path or the entrance to her stall where there's a small step.

My mare was diagnosed with ERU and went nearly 100% blind within a matter of weeks [she was diagnosed on the episode that took most of her sight. She was already, unknown to me, about 50% blind but she went from 50% to about 90% very quickly]. That was incredibly hard for us since I had no resources, I didn't understand the disease, and she didn't understand any words yet. The only thing she knew was that I was there and that I had always cared for her before. It was so scary for both of us.
That was about 2.5 years ago at this point and we've finally figured out a lot of what we need to know. She has an episode about once a year in the summer, or at least she has had an episode each year during the summer, but after that initial episode, I've been able to treat her myself with bute. I always consult the vet, of course, but so far the vet hasn't had to come out about ERU since that first time.
Lacey is pretty well blind at this point but it really doesn't bother her in the least. You probably would have no idea she can't see, just watching her around the pasture. It's a little evident from her back, she's a bit less sure of herself than a 'normal' horse is and, as her rider, I have to do a lot more piloting...but it works out fine and she loves being ridden.

Anyway, ERU is not a death sentence at all. You sound like you are dedicated to your boy and, with that kind of dedication, anything can happen.
Also, do a Google search for "moon blindness" and "ERU" and "Equine Recurrent Uveitis". There are quite a few really great articles out there on the subject. Knowledge is power so get on your armor! :)


And lastly, ERU horses are my favorite ever. I hope to have more of them in my life at some point. There's just something about the bond you have with a horse that's relying on you for it's SIGHT. I haven't found anything like it.

Sorry for the novel..it just kind of happened? :lol: I'm kindaaaa the ERU nerd around here. :rofl:
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
16,046 Posts
I agree with what Wallaby has said.
Moon blindness is not something we come across a lot in the UK however a vet I used a few years ago, now in Spain has had a great deal of success with a herbal product. This alters the immune system and for some reason this reverses the blindness, in one case the horse had been best part blind, partial sight in one eye, for two or three years.
I have sent it over to the US for just this and all have been pleased with the effects.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,231 Posts
Talk about timing I just came across this post and it describes what one of my horses is going through with the eye swelling coming and going. It started about a year ago, of course on the weekend, initially I gave her banamine and used some antibiotic eye drops I had and symptoms went away in a few days. By the time the vet saw her her eye looked fine and he did not seem concerned. So when it came back a few months later I did the same thing and symptoms cleared up in a couple days. But now it is coming more frequently, I am planning on taking her to the vet next week.

Anyway I read the post by Wallaby above and thankfully she is already on MSM so I will increase her dose, we live in FL so she usually wears a fly mask, she is on a beet pulp based diet and alfalfa cubes, and our fat supplement is flax based, she gets salt, and a mineral daily in her feed. She also gets sweet itch in the summer from the gnats so her immune system is compromised as it is.

I give her deximethasone in the summer for her itching do you think it would be of benefit when she is having a flare up of the ERU, assuming that is her problem. I know there is a risk of laminitis with dex use, but just wondering if for short term the benefit out weighs the risk.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,738 Posts
Gssw, make sure the flymask she wears is actually one with UV protection. :) Most flymasks are don't have any kind of UV protection, so unless the mask's packaging says 70+% UV protection, you want to avoid using it on an ERU horse. I made that mistake in Lacey+my first summer with diagnosed ERU - I got her a new mask before I knew about how important the UV blocking was, then Lacey kept having episode after episode and everyday she seemed to be in pain. I couldn't figure it out until I switched masks [to a Kensington] for a day so I could wash the 'new' mask and she acted dramatically a lot more comfortable that day. I did some research and discovered that just any mask isn't enough.

I would probably avoid using dex to treat an ERU episode. I'm not a vet or any kind of medical professional though, so take my opinion with a grain of salt. My thinking is that laminitis is a hugely inflammatory 'event' and that, even though dex [according to Google] treats inflammation, laminitis at the same time as an ERU episode could make the ERU episode much worse than it already was [and vice versa].

I have to wonder how common sweet itch is amongst ERU horses. Lacey gets it too. My theory is that perhaps it's actually somewhat caused by the ERU - as in, ERU compromises the immune system and BAM, hello sweet itch. But who knows. It would be interesting to see someone do research on that.. I find that as long as I keep Lacey really clean and moisturized in the summer [baths every week/no less than every two weeks, plus full body hair conditioner, etc] she stays less itchy.


On the dex front, I don't want to go around dispensing unauthorized medical advice, of course, but in the midst of an ERU episode, I treat with 2 grams of bute the first day [two feedings, 1g in each], then if her eyes are looking better - 1 1/2g the next day, 1g the next, continuing at that dose until the main puffiness is gone. Once the eyes are just a bit puffy, I try to get Lacey off bute as quickly as possible -I usually try to get her off of it by a week post-episode...sometimes it's more like a week and a half though- and back on to her devil's claw+yucca. However, I don't take her completely off bute until her eyes are completely puff-free. That generally means she gets half a gram of bute for about 4 days.

HOWEVER, each ERU horse is different. What works for Lacey could work terribly for the next horse.
I kept an "ERU Log" for the first 5 months after her diagnoses. I documented the temperature, weather, what she ate, how she was acting, what her eyes looked like, etc, twice a day until I had a pretty good picture of what her triggers are and what kind of treatments work best for her. I would really encourage everyone with an ERU horse to do the same or something similar. Some horses are triggered by rain, others by wind, others by dust, others by everything...and it takes a while to figure out what your specific horse's triggers are.
For Lacey, her triggers are dust, heat, getting overheated/chilled, and sun. For her, winter is a really easy time of year since all I have to really worry about is keeping her warm enough which is easy to do with blankets. However, the summer is terrrrrible. We make it through every year, but man oh man. Talk about stress! haha
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
115 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you so much for all of your information, Wallaby! I will have to take some notes regarding feeding. He's already on MSM, Timothy, Senior Equine (because my mom horse gets it), and rice bran oil. I will stop the oil and see what other yummies I can work in to help him out.

I appreciate your help and reassurance. I've already had people at the barn recommend I sell him before he loses vision, and it just makes me so sad. I would never get rid of him with sight, and I won't due to a disease. Your recommendation of starting voice commands now was perfect and exactly what I was looking for. He's already pretty receptive to verbal commands, so I will try to get myself in the habit of using them more often.

I'm going to take a day to read your post thoroughly and talk with my vet before I make decisions or changes quite yet.

**Edit
I hope I can find a less expensive UV fly mask. My horse is a dork and ruins all masks/blankets within a month! He knows how to be expensive.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Wallaby

·
Registered
Joined
·
115 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
what kind of horse is your horse? Moon blindness is seen in a lot of appaloosa's but it can affect any horse. Some horses benefit from wearing a fly mask year round. The mesh does sort of shield the eyes. Its a fairly slow disease. Some horses get flair ups often that are difficult to control while others have rare flair ups and do well. It really depends on your horse. It might be worth taking your horse to a veterinary ophthalmologist just to have an eye exam. If your current vet has not seen the disease in a long time and the other veterinarians thought the signs were normal it might be worth a visit to a specialist.


He's a six year old Tennessee Walking Horse. I usually have him fly masked, and will look into some UV protective ones also. I will also try to find a specialist in my area, thank you :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,231 Posts
Thank you Wallaby for all the great info. It just so happens her fly mask has UV protection, I bought it on sale last season. She is an appaloosa/arab cross so I guess her appaloosa side makes her more prone. I will keep a journal and see if I can make some connections. I am trying to think back over the past year and figure out if I find any pattern to the flare ups. I was assuming it was bugs bothering her, so she scratched and irritated her eye. It is always the same eye. I am hoping the vet will say not ERU but her symptoms fit for ERU, so I am not hopeful. But I am glad to maybe have some answers so I can help her the best I can.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Welcome to the eye management club:(

I'm sorry to hear you have to join our elite ranks but know there's a lot of support out there. I have been managing infectious uveitis in my mustang for about 10 years. I hope I can help you see that although it can be work it's not hopeless.

My boy was diagnosised with Uveitis as a result of a Leptospirsosis infection he had likely prior to me adopting him. What follows is what I have learned over the last 10 years.

I agree with MOST of what Wallaby said except some info about immune support. I initially also believed I needed to support my horse's immune system. This is an autoimmune disease right...he needs a strong immune system. That turned out to be a bit of an issue. Autoimmune diseases mean the immune system over reacts to challenges, ie vaccines, deworming, seasonal changes. So in his case now we supplement him with Platinum Skin and Allergy and use anti-histamines during flare ups to help calm his immune system. We nearly lost one of his eyes after a Rabies vaccine. We took him off all immune support and now vaccinate for the bare minimum, pre-medicate and treat like a flare up during vaccines. He's handled them well since. We don't deworm, instead run fecals. Haven't had parasite count in 4 years! These days the flares I worry about are during season changes when I can't control the environmental factors.

I absolutely agree that a mask that offers UV protection is PARAMOUNT! I have finally found and am thrilled with Nag Horse Ranch (horse sun protection nag nose shades, eye shades, full face shades, sun visors nag horse ranch, horse sun protection,equine sun, horse UV, fly mask) They even make one that can block a bad eye completely.

My boy is on a daily NSAID. We used to use aspirin but after the vaccination flare up we switched firocoxib as recommended by Dr. Irby at Cornell. I realize that there are signficant side effects to long term NSAID use but it's worth it to me to preserve his vision for as long as I can. It's also not cheap to use this drug. Plus I have my vet run organ function blood panels every 6 month and endoscope yearly (Not that I know what i'd do if we ever found a problem)

I also believe is a key to his health is that he lives like a horse. As long as he's not having a flare up he's in a large pasture with a herd for 16/17 hours a day in winter and 24 hours in summer. His diet is primarily forage with a handful or less of 12% feed to get him to take his meds/supplements.

I hope I have helped you some. It's been 10 years since diagnosis and although his vision is diminished it's been so slow that he's adjusted well.

This is just a little helping hand from someone who's been there, done that and what has worked for us. Please feel free to ask me anything, I'd be happy to pass along some of the hints, tricks I've learned.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Walkamile and gssw5

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,231 Posts
Thanks Spoiledmaxisminion, for your kind words and support. I don't get discouraged to easily, 7 horses, 5 kids not to many things rattle me. I am somewhat relieved that maybe I know what is wrong so I can get on the track of helping her.

I have noticed with this last flare up that she shying away from stuff on her left side and really turning her head to get a look at things. So I am thinking she has lost some sight in that eye, which I have been suspicious of, but the vet told me not to worry. I am taking her to different vet next week, hopefully he will listen to me. But if there is nothing to done but slow the progress and keep her comfortable I accept that and will do what needs to be done. She is my daughters pony and the bond they share is priceless.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
115 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thank you for your information! I am excited to get him to the eye specialist to learn more. I rode him for the first time today since the flair up, he was great. I noticed nothing different. I've started incorporating more words into our riding, including step, up, and down.

On the bright side, this is my excuse to take him to college with me!
 
  • Like
Reactions: Wallaby

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,934 Posts
There are a lot of articles out there linking moon blindness and neck threadworms, the major cause of sweet itch. Google it and lots pop up.

My old pony gets terrible sweet itch in the bug season. I have to keep her slathered in repellant and treat her for neck threadworms. My other 2 don't show any symptoms but the old app mare had what I thought was a case of moon blindness going this summer. Since I was already dosing the pony for Onchocerca I figured doing the other two wouldn't hurt. The apps eye cleared up.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
394 Posts
My gelding has ERU, and is currently 18. He lost the sight in his left eye and I had it removed a couple of years ago b/c it was causing him discomfort. He has never had an issue with the right eye and my vet said there is a good chance he never will. He remains an excellent trail horse and we have made minimal adjustments to accommodate the lack of sight. I do lead him on the right rather than the left b/c he has a tendency to crowd me if I'm on his blind side. Good luck!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Personally, I found a local supplier of 90% UV blocking flymask material so I make my own masks.
Masks whenever it's bright is VERY important. It's a little less dire in the winter [unless it's snowy!] but in the summer, for instance, my mare will have a severe ERU attack if she's left for just a 12 hour period with her eyes unprotected.


4. The other thing is to start working with your horse on teaching him words to describe his surroundings. He's seeing now but in 15 years, the chances of him being sighted are slim to none. If he already knows words, he'll feel safer making the transition from sight to blindness.
For my mare, I use "careful" to describe uncertain footing, "up" for a big step-over/step-up, and "step" for simple step-overs like a small log in her path or the entrance to her stall where there's a small step.
Wallaby, do you mind telling me where you get the material to make your own masks? If you don't feel comfortable, please feel free to send me a private message. I have a POA mare with ERU, and although I order them from a woman who makes them, they just don't fit her large pony head. Thank you!

My mare was diagnosed about 5 years ago and like you, I immediately started teaching her voice commands as we are Trail Riders. And you'd never know she has limited vision.

Oliveoats, I'd definiately take your guy to an Opthamologist, perhaps at a teaching University near you?

I brought my mare to Tuft's and they have the specialized equipment, that a local traveling Vet will not have. Nevermind the latest knowledge of ERU.
Unfortunately, I could not keep the inflammation down in her right eye and had it removed about two years ago.

Previously, she had surgery to insert the "Cyclosporine Implant" in her left eye. Although, it is not a guarantee, I wanted to do anything to keep her vision long as possible as she is only 13 yrs.

A UV protection mask is on 24/7 regardless of the weather. Doing so protects the eye from dust and debris. I gave her a *break* one night as it was raining and sure enough, she must have rubbed her eye and scratched the Cornea.

Since I board it is hard to get to the barn everyday, but when I do, she gets 10 drops of Flurbroprofin in her remaining eye. Plus 57 mg of Previcox every other day. Both of these are anti-inflammatories.

Trying to think of more information, that hasn't been provided by the other posters.
 
1 - 15 of 15 Posts
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top