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About Uveitis In Horses

Vision loss is tragic for all species, but understanding it is important for the healthy treatment of eyes and taking proper care if vision does become lost. Uveitis in horses is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of the uveal tract of the eye, also known as the middle layer of the eye (between the cornea and retina). Episodes vary in severity, and it can happen once or multiple times. It’s the most common cause of vision loss in horses.

Can Horses Experience Uveitis More Than Once?

Uveitis in horses can be painful, and it’s never a good thing. However, it can be managed and treated, with the hope that it will not happen again. It is not completely preventable, but if it keeps happening, it may become a bigger issue. 

Equine Recurrent Uveitis (ERU), or Moon Blindness, is repeated episodes of Uveitis. It can happen in one or both eyes, and can eventually lead to complete blindness. The term “moon blindness” was a term from the 1600s, when people thought it was temporary blindness influenced by moon phases. The damage cannot be reversed, but surgeries and proper care can prolong your horse’s vision.

What Are the Signs of Uveitis In Horses?

Some signs of Uveitis include tears in the eye, squinting, swollen and red eyeball(s), sensitivity to light, yellow pus, and/or a cloudy, bluish haze over the cornea of the eye. There are many factors that go into how susceptible your horse is to getting Uveitis, and sometimes the episodes are minor enough that you won’t notice until it’s too late and vision loss occurs.

According to Dr. Rana Bozorgmanesh, ERU affects 2-25% of the horse population in the United States. It is somewhat common, and certain breeds are more genetically predisposed to experience it. Appaloosas are the most at-risk breed, with up to a 25% prevalence to it. The disease is still somewhat a mystery to horse health care professionals, even though it has been recognized for centuries.

What Should I Do If I Think My Horse Has Uveitis?

Even if you’re not sure your horse is experiencing Uveitis, call a trusted horse health professional immediately. The earlier you can detect it, the better chance you have at prolonging your horse’s vision. There’s no test to determine if it’s a one-time occurrence or if it will happen again, but giving your veterinarian the most information that you can will give them a better idea about your horse’s situation.

You can work with them to find the primary cause of the episode (infection, blunt trauma, ulcer, etc), and this helps decide the likeliness of ERU. If it happened without a primary event triggering it, it’s more likely that it might happen again. Since it is a progressive disease without a defined cure, you’ll want to discuss an aging plan and proper treatment options.

How Do You Treat Uveitis In Horses?

Even if your horse has a one-time occurrence of Uveitis, you’re going to have to implement some treatment with your horse. Treatment options include topical anti-inflammatories, corticosteroids, and medications that dilate the pupil. The goal of these is to reduce inflammation and pain, prolonging the comfort and vision of your horse. 

We hope that you and your horse never have to go through this, but being educated on the subject will best prepare you for catching it early on. Contact BRD Vet Rx with any questions you may have, or view our products for more information. We look forward to hearing from you and are here for your horse health needs.

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