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Martha E. Mitchell
Member
Username: mitma

Post Number: 84
Registered: 11-2006
Posted on Friday, Jul 13, 2007 - 11:41 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Dear HA Friends,

I have another ex-PMU mare health saga... This time it's the EYES. I just moved my other two ex-PMU mares down to my place (not where I live, but where my parents live...) And, since I'm usually down there only once during the week, but on most weekends, I have a handful of responsible, talented, young horse women, most are Pony Club members (ages 15 to 18) who feed, muck stalls, provide daily grooming, flyspray, overall care, etc... and do some groundwork with the five I have at the property! The horses are divided into two groups for now while they get to know each other; each set has access either to stalls or a run in shed during inclement weather, but they are out 24/7 in the pasture...

Now, two days after I moved the two mares to the property, there was a storm that blew in from the Chesapeake Bay... the two Pony Club teenagers feeding that evening were concerned, so they stalled the two mares (this is a shed row style barn and both lower and upper dutch doors were shut and the only ventilation came from an open window at the back of each stall. The next day my parents reported that everything went well during the storm and the mares were turned out again that morning. I arrived late that day, near dusk, and I discovered that one mare, Ciara, had incredibly swollen, squinty, tearing, and red eyes (left was much worse than the right and lower lids were almost exclusively affected... sorry, no pictures of this initial problem). The other mare, Jip, also seemed to have some minor swelling and tearing of both eyes, but nothing compared to Ciara... I also looked at the three other horses on the property and two of those had some tearing of their eyes (one, a solid Appy with traits and the other, my strawberry roan/sabino -with a big bald face- BLM mustang) which I've certainly observed in them since the onset of hot weather and sunshine...

So, first I quickly got online and read Dr. O's article, then, because I thought that Ciara's right cornea may have been a bit cloudy, I called my regular vet, who I knew could not come, because the property is located way out of his area of circulation, but talking to him was helpful anyway. He said that despite my observation of both eyes being affected, the usual culprit was eye trauma and this warranted evaluation. So, next, I started to locate a new equine vet... (oh, and BTW... this farm is located in an area where there's alot less equine veterinary coverage than I'm used to and local horse people have expressed concerns over the responsiveness of the available vets and the quality of care they receive...) Meanwhile, I also visited Walmart at midnight to find some sterile saline for opthalmic use... I irrigated both eyes gently (yes, in the dark, really hot and humid night, alone...) and, remarkably, it went pretty well. After a few minutes, the mare seemed to find it soothing. The new vet arrived the next morning and, fortunately, Ciara's eye exam was pretty normal, except for her obvious, significant CONJUNCTIVITIS. There was no evidence of a foreign body or trauma, her eye stain did not show any corneal defects, and her opthalmoscope exam was normal. After pondering the story of these mares being stalled during the storm, the vet suggested that, possibly, while stalled they became very restless and then overly active in their stalls... and with nice, clean, dusty shavings and reduced ventilation, they may have, literally, stirred up trouble for themselves. He really thought that she was experiencing a significant conjunctivitis that was allergic in nature and that the other mare was lucky enough to have only a minor reaction. So, he gave me some steroid/antibiotic ointment and instructed me to medicate Ciara's eyes twice daily for the next week; also, he left some Banamine for her to receive twice daily for three days.

Over the weekend, the swelling improved slightly and she certainly seemed much less bothered by her eyes... also, by the end of the weekend, the other mare's minor symptoms had completely resolved without any therapy. So, I left at the end of the weekend and the Pony Club teenagers continued the care this past week.

Now, when I arrived last night, I found a different situation (see the attached pictures). Ciara's eyes were not really as swollen as previously, but the conjunctivae were MUCH more red and there was obvious purulent discharge from each eye. Again, I irrigated her eyes with sterile saline and called the new vet. He came out this morning and was really surprised... naturally, he was now concerned about a secondary bacterial conjunctivitis, so he took a sample for culture (again, her cornea and fundus were normal). So now we've started on Ofloxacin and Flurbiprofen eye drops... the culture probably won't have any information for us until Monday... What do you all think????

Martha

Ciara, frontal view

Ciara, frontal view again

Ciara, left eye

Ciara, left eye again
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: dro

Post Number: 18844
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Saturday, Jul 14, 2007 - 12:49 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Dust blown into both eyes is certainly possible as is infection. Note that some systemic viruses can also cause a conjunctivitis, are there any signs of systemic infection like depression, inappetance, or fever?

The worsening following a careful cleaning suggest infection. So I guess the one other question is, "has the horse been sedated the eye lids blocked and a careful cleaning of all the fornices (corners) been undertaken to completely rule out ongoing irritation from residual grit?". It is really the only way to thoroughly examine the areas around the eyes and if irritation persists should be undertaken.
DrO
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Martha E. Mitchell
Member
Username: mitma

Post Number: 85
Registered: 11-2006
Posted on Sunday, Jul 15, 2007 - 12:50 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thanks Dr. O...
The first time the new vet arrived he instilled drops (which I presumed to be a topical local anesthetic, but I was so frazzeled that I forgot to ask him what they were... in humans, we use tetracaine drops...) Anyway, he then was quite able to irrigate and "sweep" (with a sterile swab) the lower and upper lid areas. During this process, Ciara was not sedated, but tolerated the procedure very well (I think because she got much more comfortable after the ?LA drops were applied...) This past Friday when he visited us the second time, I don't know what EXACTLY he did as I was not present... but he did tell call me to say that he took a culture... he also indicated that if significant improvement does not occur following 72 hours of the new therapy (Ofloxacin and Flurbiprofen drops), we may need to involve an Opthalmologist... meanwhile, Ciara is eating well, her activity is pretty normal (it's been really hot here, so it's not like the horses are galloping through the pasture very much), and I haven't noticed any signs of a URI... Tomorrow is the 72 hour time point, so I'm really hoping we're making some progress...
Martha
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jojo
Member
Username: jojo15

Post Number: 969
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Sunday, Jul 15, 2007 - 3:07 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

My horse had this at one time They did a block, tested the cornea, and then did a drainage, and the nastiest stuff came out of the drainage line from the nostril to the eye... I have no idea what this process is called. But he had a very tiny hose that when he blew into gunk came out the other end...and it was pretty gunky and the vet did say it was slightly infected. Could have started from anything. (like a dust storm)... but once he cleared that passage and with some antibiotic drops for a week, she was fine the rest of the summer.


Now every year when summer hits it starts up again. but i always have some triple antibiotic on hand to keep it at bay and fly masks..
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Martha E. Mitchell
Member
Username: mitma

Post Number: 91
Registered: 11-2006
Posted on Tuesday, Aug 7, 2007 - 1:57 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Update: Ciara had about 10 days of Ofloxacin (antibiotic) and Flurbiprofen (antiinflammatory) eye drops in both eyes... (Apparently, her culture did grow out some gram negative rod type bacteria, I just can't seem to get the id from the vet's office!) I then continued to irrigate her eyes with sterile saline solution for about a week just to continue to wash any debris out; during that time, I noticed a very small particle (it appeared to be an incredibly tiny fragment of a ??? shaving/sawdust) in her right eye (the one that was always the most affected); despite continued irrigation, it stayed on the mucosal surface of the inside of her lower lid... I had the vet back out and he used local anesthetic drops, then extracted the tiny particle with a pair of tweezers!!! I then continued to irrigate her eyes with saline for another few days. Well, here's the clincher... about a week later, her eyes were SWOLLEN AND PUSSED OUT AGAIN!!! (Again, the right one was the worst affected...) So, the vet returned and we've started her back of the same eye drop regiment... as I wasn't present when the vet came out, I don't know if he took another culture, but the assumption is that the infection did not clear completely the first time; also, I do know that the bacteria she grew out the first time was sensitive to the Ofloxacin... what do you guys think about this recurrence??? (Sorry, NO pictures this time...)
Martha
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jojo
Member
Username: jojo15

Post Number: 975
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Wednesday, Aug 8, 2007 - 12:12 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

martha, i have the same problems. Its the bugs, knats, noseeums what ever, but its causing a serious itching problem. take care of that around her face everyday and this other EYE issue will probably stop. She is obviously itching somewhere on a tree, on the fence on her leg (that might have some shavings dust) and she is getting this stuff in her eye. shavings dust.. have you smelled it lately? mine smelled like a chemical factory. just awful. Who knows what is in it that now gets in her eye and irritates it.

Did the vet say their is any corneal damage? or shadows or the start of anything serious?

you do have a fly mask on 24/7? the kind with ears? and its sprayed with fly spray? and i put on a little swat under her eyes, just to make doubly sure... My girl is always swollen this time of year. even when i do all this. but its less intense.

this eye issue is a secondary issue, i think. get rid of the bugs and i bet it will stop. First year this happened i did the same thing 2 vet visits lots of cultures, eye stains, nasal drain, all to figure out the next year its the bugs, area, etc...
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: dro

Post Number: 18980
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Wednesday, Aug 8, 2007 - 7:16 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hmmm, since the eyes have been completely reevaluated and still no evidence of persistent foreign bodies the course reasonable with a redoubling of effort to prevent irritation from dust and insects. However I do wonder about the saline once the eyes returned to normal. No matter how good an eye wash, it is more irritating than normal tears. When you use eye wash on normal eyes you are creating irritation not preventing it. Could the eyes have become reirritated from this persistent removal of normal tears? I don't know the answer but put this out as a caution against using eye wash on clinically normal or even near normal eyes.
DrO
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Sara Wolff
Member
Username: mrose

Post Number: 3033
Registered: 1-2000
Posted on Wednesday, Aug 8, 2007 - 10:39 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Although my horses' eyes haven looked infected or had puss, some of them have gotten swollen and runny, and like jojo I've decided it's bugs. Two horses have any been covered in welts. I tried putting on fly sheets and spraying them. They all wear fly masks from sun up to sun down, but the masks aren't enough. I've had to start leaving the horses in all day and turning them out only after dark. When I do this none of them have any problems. I'm not sure what bugs are out there, but they are either different than in previous years, or there are more of them. This has all just started since our rain storms a couple of weeks ago.
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LL
Member
Username: frances

Post Number: 497
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Wednesday, Aug 8, 2007 - 2:14 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Do any of you find that fly masks cause rubs in this hot sweaty weather? I've just found a nasty wet skinned area behind my horse's cheek - I suppose it would be called the jowl area - and it's the second time this summer.

I had to leave the fly mask off, but I hate to do this as she gets eye infections quite easily from flies. I'm going to try another mask in case it contacts the skin in a slightly different place.
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Martha E. Mitchell
Member
Username: mitma

Post Number: 94
Registered: 11-2006
Posted on Wednesday, Aug 8, 2007 - 2:16 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

JoJo, Sara, and Dr. O,
Thanks so much for your thoughts and comments... they have prompted me to consider some further options. NO doubt, the BUGS are an issue, but, remember that this mare only had this problem start since Friday, July 6th, and we were certainly well into the bug season at that point in time... plus, it started after she and another mare were stalled overnight during a bad storm and with very "limited" ventilation... (both the bottom and top dutch doors to the stalls got closed and there was only one small window open at the rear of the stalls)... Since she is a nervous type, I assumed that she paced all night stirring up the shavings and dust and that was the debris that entered her eyes; also, there is significant asymmetry in her symptoms... both times, it has been her right eye that is most affected, I assumed as a result of more debris getting in her right eye compared to her left. I do keep a fly mask on her 24/7, but it is not one with ears; she and all the other horses are sprayed daily with flyspray and I do use the roll on stuff for their faces and other sensitive areas. Unfortunately (I guess), my "barn" is a small shed-row structure with 2 stalls and 2 run in areas... due to it's location, it really gets hot during the day... eventually, we'll have the electricity installed and I can get fans up! Meanwhile, I dream of a larger, CENTER-AILE type barn which can be kept cooler during the summer days and would offer a reasonable place if day time stalling is necessary... AHHH!!! Of the four other horses on the property, two do have a little chronic tearing problem (one is a solid appy with the white sclera and the other has a large bald face with one blue eye) but I think that is a typical sun-induced conjunctivitis for those types of horses.
Now, regarding the normal saline for irrigation, that's certainly something I hadn't considered; basically, it got started as a way to "flush" any remaining tiny particles out of her eyes, then also, to be able to remove the more "solid" purulent material that may have interfered with any administered medication gaining access to all affected conjunctivae. The product that I've been using is Bausch & Lomb "Sensitive Eyes Plus Saline Solution"... it states on the package that it is "a gentle, pH-balanced formula which contains potassium, an ingredient found in normal tears"... however, the contents also list two preservatives: polyaminopropyl biguanide, 0.00003%, and edetate disodium, 0.025%... I guess once the purulence of this episode decreases, I will try to stop the irrigation process, but just continue with the eyedrops. I'll keep everyone posted and if I ever get the identity of the bacteria grown from her first culture, I'll let you know! Thanks!
Martha
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Sara Wolff
Member
Username: mrose

Post Number: 3039
Registered: 1-2000
Posted on Wednesday, Aug 8, 2007 - 2:42 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

LL -I use masks with the fleece around the edges and have had no problems.
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jojo
Member
Username: jojo15

Post Number: 976
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Wednesday, Aug 8, 2007 - 4:39 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

LL yes big time. not the flymask perse but add the halter over or under and i have a bad area on her face. started as a loss of hair, went to a callous type thing, and now its 2 round little raised circles that she itches and gets the scab off so they in turn attract things. I can only clean and put swat on it.

as to the assymetry of the eyes? mine too. sometimes its only one eye that gets inflamed and the lower lid gets all pink, big and looks like a lower lip... One year she scratched so bad we had to have stiches on the top lid got stuck on something.

Some horses like people are just more affected by it. and i do think that once it starts? they will get it every year. area, season, humidity, heat, wetness, not just that the summer is half over when it started is a reason to think this is more than what it is...

i'm curious is our ph levels the same as a horses? so the saline solution is ok to use? i have no idea. I know this is so frustrating. I will post a pic of my mare's face, soon as i can catch her. :-)
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Vicki Zaneis
Member
Username: vickiann

Post Number: 470
Registered: 3-2005
Posted on Wednesday, Aug 8, 2007 - 8:22 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Using sterile saline in my horses' eyes has never done anything harmful whatsoever.
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LL
Member
Username: frances

Post Number: 500
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Thursday, Aug 9, 2007 - 6:03 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Sara: I have two fly masks so that I can use one and wash one. Both are padded - one with fleece and the other I think has foam covered with fabric. It's the latter that she was wearing when I found the rub, so as soon as it's healed enough, I'll see if the fleece one does better. Thanks!

Jojo: that's a good point about the combination of mask and headcollar making worse pressure points, although my horse isn't wearing them together these days (she wears a mask in the stable during the day, and is out all night without it).

Sweaty coats are prone to so many skin problems; I see it in my two dogs as well. They get itchy "hot spots" in this weather, and lick away at them endlessly, making them far worse in the process of course.

Roll on fall!
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: dro

Post Number: 18991
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Friday, Aug 10, 2007 - 12:59 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Vicki, whether you see damage or not, it washes our natural proteins, surfactants, the immune agents, and is not exactly isotonic with the tears so may change the fluid balance of the cornea. On top of that everytime you do the procedure you introduce new organisms into the eyes. Your saline is only sterile when the package is first used and even if you use a fresh bag each time then the procedure would be impossible to carry out aseptically in a barn situation. On top of this you risk mechanical injury to the horses eye with whatever you are using as an applicator.

Whether this is a helpful procedure or not depends on the conditions of the eyes when treated. I suggest, considering the downsides, it be reserved for when there is a clear indication for it as recommended above.
DrO
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Vicki Zaneis
Member
Username: vickiann

Post Number: 471
Registered: 3-2005
Posted on Friday, Aug 10, 2007 - 8:54 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thanks for your input, Dr. O. I have never flushed horse eyes out unless the procedure was very much indicated. If the horse's eye is already swollen and irritated, I have flushed the eye and then rechecked in a few hours to see that the situation was resolving. If not, I have had my Vet make a farm call. But if a horse has eye irritation, like one of mine often does, because he likes to roll and grind sand into his eyes, and then scrub it because it feels irritated, or because the flies are feasting on the proteins in the corner of the eye, an eye flushing does wonders. Also, the removal of grass seeds -- however accomplished, can avoid major difficulties.
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Vicki Zaneis
Member
Username: vickiann

Post Number: 472
Registered: 3-2005
Posted on Saturday, Aug 11, 2007 - 2:01 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Other products I've used to cleanse eyes are "Calm Eyes" and "Eye Clear Eye Cleansing Pads." "Calm Eyes" contains distilled water and natural eyebright herb. It is suggested for itching, irritated, runny eyes in horses, and as claimed it does seem to greatly ease irritation from flies and gnats. The directions say to saturate a cotton square. The "Eye Clear Eye Cleaning Pads" contain Water, Boric acid, potassium chloride, zinc sulfate, sodium borate, methyl paraben, propyl paraben, camphor. A container holds 90 pads and they are for dogs, cats, birds and horses. I've had good results with both of those products, though only use when indicated, not preventively.
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: dro

Post Number: 19003
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Monday, Aug 13, 2007 - 7:13 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I would discourage the use of distilled water and herbs as a treatment instilled in the eyes as allergic reactions can develop to herbal distillates. The Eye Clear product does not appear to be made to be placed in the eyes but instead to clean around the eyes.
DrO
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Vicki Zaneis
Member
Username: vickiann

Post Number: 474
Registered: 3-2005
Posted on Monday, Aug 13, 2007 - 5:28 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Dr. O, I too was a bit worried about allergic reaction with the eyebright (some of my boys have allergies to various herbal things) but no problem with my 3. Instructions for the eye cleansing pads are "Remove pad and squeeze excess liquid into the eye. Use pad to remove excess debris. Best if used three to 4 times daily as needed. For Eye stains: Remove pad and gently wipe stained area below the eye. Repeat daily as needed." I've never used the products frequently, finding one time use does wonders for irritation. With the eye pads, I've spread the upper and lower lids apart and placed the pad between for several seconds, then wiped around and under the eye. The horses don't mind, and I don't even have to tie them to do this -- they seem to know they will feel better afterward.
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: dro

Post Number: 19012
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Tuesday, Aug 14, 2007 - 6:41 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thats the thing about allergies Vicki, you never know when the reaction will occur. First requires exposure to create the sensitized immune system then the immune system reacts. How much exposure before sensitivity depends on the individual. I strongly discourage you from experimenting with therapies placed on the eyes, the consequences of a reaction are just too serious.

Flushing foreign matter out of irritated eyes with isotonic saline is a logical therapy but inserting herbal treated pads between the lids and in contact with the cornea does not sound advisable.
DrO
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Vicki Zaneis
Member
Username: vickiann

Post Number: 475
Registered: 3-2005
Posted on Tuesday, Aug 14, 2007 - 11:24 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thanks Dr. O -- what you are saying makes a great deal of sense. It is not the pads that have the herbal contents -- that is the other list of ingredients, but you are right that saline would be the safest remedy. Thanks for helping us avoid problems!
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