Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Masses, Strands or Floaters within Eyeball

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

  • If you notice other problems with the eye or the eye seems inflamed and painful.
  • If the appearance of the mass seems to be changing rapidly.

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

  • If the eye appears otherwise normal.

Occasionally, strange bodies appear within the equine eyeball. Normal healthy horses have a projection from the top part of the iris known as the corpora nigra, which might be mistaken for an abnormality. This structure is thought to provide shade to the pupil and reduce glare, similar to a ball cap bill. The corpora nigra takes many shapes and forms in different horses. See the related media record Equine Eye, for a visual reference.

Tumors and cysts can be seen within the eyeball, especially near the colored part of the eye (iris). Strands or webs may be indicative of prior eye disease.

Tiny, moving pale or clear appearing bubbles are known as vitreous floaters. These are fairly common and are usually not considered a problem. Occasionally, parasites can be seen in the front chamber of the eye.

WHAT TO DO

Examine both of your horse’s eyes carefully, and compare the affected to unaffected eye. Try to assess vision using the menace gesture.

If you have any difficulty discerning whether an eye-related mass is normal or not, share your findings and concerns with your vet. Take a photo of the suspected abnormality (using good light and close up view) and send it to your vet for discussion.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

When it comes to the eye, your vet knows what is normal and what is not. Some subtle abnormalities may be of questionable significance. In that case, they may recommend sharing the images with a veterinary ophthalmologist.

Helpful Terms & Topics in HSVGWritten, Reviewed or Shared by Experts in Equine Health

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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