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Discussion on Will a blocked Tear Duct Resolve on Its own?

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Fran C
Member
Username: canter

Post Number: 2521
Registered: 1-2000
Posted on Thursday, Nov 18, 2010 - 7:26 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi DrO,

For several years, my mare's left eye has seemed mildly irritated, for no known reason. The eye seems to tear more than the other, but there is no swelling, redness or visible sensitivity. I've had the eyes checked each spring & fall during her wellness check up. Not a real thorough exam, just looking in each eye with the scope. It hasn't been a big deal, and the vet says no cause for alarm.

Several weeks ago, that left eye really started weeping, leaving a tear stain from the eye to under her jaw, each day. For the first time, when I wiped away the tears, she seemed mildly protective of the eye, partially closing it, which she has never done. Normally, I can wipe over an eye and she trusts enough that there is no response. Standing in front of her, the tears literally drop at about 1/second. No visible difference in how she reacts when brought out into direct sun. No abnormal pus. Thinking maybe her forlock was a cause of irritation (longer right now than normal because we didn't show this summer), I kept it braided for 1 week - it made no difference.

So, I have a vet appointment to thoroughly check that eye scheduled for tomorrow. However, since about Tuesday, the issue seems to have resolved on its own, at least temporarily. Last night, there were no abnormal tears and no tear stain.

My guess is this was a blocked tear duct...but can they resolve on their own?

I plan on keeping the vet appointment, and if my usual luck holds, the eye will look fine until the moment the vet walks off the farm. Is there any harm done to have him rinse the eye? Should he culture it for bacteria or fungus? And, even if it looks fine tomorrow, does my mare benefit from the procedure to rinse out that tear duct?

I would appreciate your thoughts, DrO.

Thank you,
Fran
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Sara M
Member
Username: sdms

Post Number: 572
Registered: 4-2006
Posted on Thursday, Nov 18, 2010 - 7:48 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Fran. I can't answer your questions from a medical perspective, of course, but I can share my experience. When my older mare came to us she was very weepy in both eyes. My vet suggested we flush her ducts, which we did while she was under sedation for dental work. It was a very simple procedure although one was blocked so badly it took a great deal of pressure to get it flushed. It greatly reduced (to the point of almost stopping) the tearing and made her much more comfortable.

My opinion is to opt for the flush. It's one of those things that can only help and if it doesn't you've at least crossed that off your list as the problem.

Good luck!
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Angie KJ
Member
Username: ajudson1

Post Number: 1141
Registered: 6-2009
Posted on Thursday, Nov 18, 2010 - 9:16 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Fran,

Our late Fancy used to have eye troubles on a pretty regular basis. I would flush her eye with saline solution(the contact lens kind) and always had a tube of Rx eye ointment on hand. Sometimes I would have the vet check for scratches on her cornea.

I always have a new bottle of saline solution in the tack room for eye emergencies since my son has had metal in his eye twice and hubby has scratched his eye too many times to remember. (and yes they both wear safety glasses when working!)

Most likely the vet will put something in the eye to check for scratches, or at least IMO that would be the place to start before sedation and flushing. DrO might have other thoughts of course ;-)>
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LL
Member
Username: frances

Post Number: 1130
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Thursday, Nov 18, 2010 - 10:01 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Fran,

I too think that flushing the tear duct is a good start, and may solve the problem.

If that doesn't work and her eyes are still weeping, try standing at her shoulder and looking at the profile of her eye against the light. It could be that one or two of her lower eyelashes are curling up and touching the eye.

Another possibility is "dry eye", which can be caused by irritation from wind, dust, sun or simply from tears which are deficient (there's a lot more to the make-up of tears than meets the eye - so sorry about the bad pun, it just came out!). You can buy human "artificial tears" in individual ampoules and they are incredibly soothing, with a lasting effect. One of the vets here uses them before applying antibiotic ointment or drops in cases of eye infections (not quite sure why).

Good luck!
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Lilo
Member
Username: lilo

Post Number: 1619
Registered: 4-2000
Posted on Thursday, Nov 18, 2010 - 11:42 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Fran,

My gelding has had to have his tear duct flushed twice since I have had him. He has sensitive eyes and on particularly windy, dusty days his eyes tear a lot (usually the left is worse than the right).
I sometimes use a fly mask to protect his eyes on very windy days.

Three days ago when I put his halter on to lead him to the pasture, his right eye was swollen (the area around the eye socket) and tears down to the jaw line. He also tried to rub the eye on the fence.

So - I was seeing $$$$ signs and a vet call for the next day (which is my regular vet's day off). I turned him out, and after bringing him back in, I washed his face and the area around the eye with a warm moist cloth just to make him more comfortable. He did not want me to open his eye to look inside, but his eye looked clear, not cloudy, and there was no discharge except clear tears.

The next morning I checked him - great improvement! I washed the area again, but there had been almost no tearing over night. And then there were no more problems. I still do not know what he did to himself, and he is not telling!

Lilo
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Fran C
Member
Username: canter

Post Number: 2522
Registered: 1-2000
Posted on Thursday, Nov 18, 2010 - 12:46 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thanks, everyone for your thoughts and suggestions. I was wrestling with cancelling the vet appt, but I think I will keep it to be on the safe side. She has unusually long eyelashes and eye whiskers, so I have checked, to the best of my ability, for one of them in her eye, but have found nothing. That said, I'm usually out at the barn at night and of course, at this time of year, by the time I get out there, it is dark, and the barn lights aren't great for an examination. That said, when that eye was particularly weepy about 2 weeks ago, I took her out on a bright Sunday morning and faced her into the sun. She didn't seem irritated by the bright light and I couldn't see anything then, either. There's very little indication that this makes her uncomfortable, other than the slightly protective response when I clean the tears off her face and wipe down around the eye. Only then does she lower the top lid to about 1/3 of the way down. I can handle her other eye and she doesn't even twitch a lash.

We'll see what the vet say tomorrow...
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: dro

Post Number: 25318
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Thursday, Nov 18, 2010 - 4:52 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Though not common I would have to say yes they can unblock themselves and it sounds so in your case. More often unattended cases become chronically blocked and eventually permanently blocked.

If I understand you right at this time your horse is normal so I certainly do not see a need for medication but that should be driven by the exam findings.
DrO
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Lee
Member
Username: paul303

Post Number: 1488
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Thursday, Nov 18, 2010 - 9:11 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I had a paint gelding that needed the tear duct on his right eye flushed three separate times. When the drainage of that eye would not clear on it's own with warm soaks, the vet would flush it. It was a minor procedure and worked well each time it was done.

This was a major show gelding, and these flushing procedures were done once in his late twenties, and twice in his thirties. Should you ever need it, it's not a big procedure and certainly worthwhile.
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Fran C
Member
Username: canter

Post Number: 2523
Registered: 1-2000
Posted on Friday, Nov 19, 2010 - 7:22 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thanks, DrO. Yes, as of Wednesday night, that eye appeared just fine. I kept the vet appt and have some notes from the articles and everyone's suggestions, so I'll check off everything with the vet and see what he recommends.
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Fran C
Member
Username: canter

Post Number: 2524
Registered: 1-2000
Posted on Friday, Nov 19, 2010 - 12:40 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

The vet stained her eye with a green florescent stuff and the eye looks good, as does the fluids that protect it. He noted that the green stuff took a bit longer than expected to flush out thru the tear duct, but it did come out. So rather than a blockage, he felt that the nasal lacrimal duct was swollen due to some irritation. He did flush it and put a triple antibiotic ointment into the eye, thinking if there was any residual irritation/infection, the ointment would help.

So, hopefully, that is the end of any problems.
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Sara M
Member
Username: sdms

Post Number: 573
Registered: 4-2006
Posted on Friday, Nov 19, 2010 - 2:20 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Fingers crossed, Fran! Sounds like a positive outcome from the exam.
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Fran C
Member
Username: canter

Post Number: 2525
Registered: 1-2000
Posted on Friday, Nov 19, 2010 - 5:22 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thanks, Sara. I'm much relieved that there is no vision threatening damage. As I expected, the eye was totally not runny when the vet got there, but he's a good guy and knows that I'm neurotic, but within reason. It was really quite startling to see that green florescent stuff work it's way from her eye out of her nose, and then to see the eye squirt when he flushed the duct from inside the nose.

Knock on wood, when I go out tonight to put the ointment in, there will be no dripping eye other than what's left over of the green stuff....and hopefully she'll let me do it. When he put the ointment in and then showed me how, she was still doped up from the flushing. Prior to that, she was feeling her oats, and just as he was explaining to his assistant how she is one of his most quiet and trustworthy patients, she decided to get a little silly. That reminded him to check her tendon that she injured in May and he was really pleased with how she was moving and how it was sliding over the other structures...so good news on all fronts! (and I need to remember to update my thread on the injury...that'll have to wait for another day)
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Angie KJ
Member
Username: ajudson1

Post Number: 1144
Registered: 6-2009
Posted on Friday, Nov 19, 2010 - 6:28 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

That florescent green stuff is cool, aye?

Hopefully Sparkles lets you put the ointment in her eye without any trouble. I've had to do that with 3 horses in my life, and the one was nearly impossible to approach! And I still own her, lol!

Glad you got all good news today.
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Sara M
Member
Username: sdms

Post Number: 574
Registered: 4-2006
Posted on Friday, Nov 19, 2010 - 6:44 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I don't know if you remember but last year I had to treat an eye injury in my old mare for several months. Thankfully she is an angel and the best patient around and let me put different ointments and liquids in her eye up to 6 times a day. I actually became very good at it so if you need some pointers feel free to call!
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Lilo
Member
Username: lilo

Post Number: 1621
Registered: 4-2000
Posted on Saturday, Nov 20, 2010 - 9:44 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I usually fail at getting ointments into the eye - no matter how often the vet demonstrates.
Fran - hopefully the matter is resolved.
Lilo
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Fran C
Member
Username: canter

Post Number: 2526
Registered: 1-2000
Posted on Saturday, Nov 20, 2010 - 10:11 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

She wasn't all that cooperative last night - I got the ointment in, but she was madder than a wet hen. I got the technique right, I think, but it's amazing how tall a horse can get when they don't want their head reached! Heading out now to do the next dose...hopefully.

...Sara, I might need those pointers...!
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Sara Wolff
Member
Username: mrose

Post Number: 6136
Registered: 1-2000
Posted on Saturday, Nov 20, 2010 - 11:40 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Do you put the ointment on your finger, gently pull down her lower lid, and rub the ointment onto inner part of lid? Easy! especially if you have at least three hands!
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Fran C
Member
Username: canter

Post Number: 2527
Registered: 1-2000
Posted on Saturday, Nov 20, 2010 - 3:36 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Three hands most definitely would be useful. The only previous eye injuries I've ever had to treat was on one of the house pets and with my husband holding down the cat, who was wrapped completely in a towel except for his head. Too bad I can't do the same for Sparkles! She actually was better this morning and didn't grow quite so tall.

Sara, I thought about using my finger, particularly since she's not objecting to my hands, but to that little tube approaching her eye. I hesitated cuz by the time I've handled her, I'm not certain my hands are all that clean. If I could scrub up, get the ointment on my finger and immedietely plop it in her eye, I would do it in a heart beat, but by the time I get her positioned, grab the lead to lower her head (or rub her ears, which helped this morning)my hands aren't clean. Then again, she may not put up as much of a fuss with my finger, so it is certainly worth a try.
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Angie KJ
Member
Username: ajudson1

Post Number: 1147
Registered: 6-2009
Posted on Saturday, Nov 20, 2010 - 4:43 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Depending on which eye it is, and if you are on your GOOD side, and HER good side (tee hee) you should be able to like hide the little tube in your hand while sliding your hand up under the halter. Let's see, say it's her left eye, I'd have the tube in my right hand, and that hand approach her eye under the halter, my left hand on her nose, bring her head around and down. When you need your left hand, if you do to pull her lid down, just the motion of squeezing the tube should arch your hand and tighten the halter a bit and keep her head there...RIGHT?? HA ha, sounds sooo easy I know...but it's not!

Something like that, trying to think through how I've done it in the past!

Now if it's the other eye, reverse hands and direction. Depending on her and your dexterity, might be harder or easier ;-).

When I used to treat Fancy and Buckshot, they were super easy. I could grab them by the nose, or I guess face/head, and just pretty much put it in their eyes. Willow on the other hand...oh boy! She got it in her head that it was a big scary monster out to kill her, and I had to get nasty just to get her treated. By nasty I mean grabbing the ear! Then I had to re-train her to accept her ears being handled. *Sigh* Sounds like Sparkles is doing o.k., and you only have a few days to treat her hopefully.

I have nice step stool tool box I use for when horses get taller than me! Which is quite often, lol! Be careful, and massage her good around the eye and face as a reward after you get that stuff in.
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