Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Eye is Draining, Discharge

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

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

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.
  • Most eye problems are considered veterinary emergencies.

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

  • If you consider this a chronic and relatively mild problem that is not changing rapidly.
  • If the eye appears otherwise normal.

Thick yellow or pale white discharge from the eye is usually composed of inflammatory cells or pus. It is a natural response to injury and may result from a wound to the eye or eyelid, infection, foreign material in the eye, cancer associated with the eye, or any other inflammatory process.

It is also commonly seen when the eye is irritated by flies, excessive dust, or other airborne debris. When both eyes are affected, this can suggest a body-wide process or disease.

WHAT TO DO

Given the importance of your horse’s sight, do not allow this condition to continue or worsen over time. Assess your horse’s eyes carefully and try to determine whether this problem may be caused by environmental factors, such as dust, wind or flies. Share your findings and concerns with your vet. If it is easy to do so, gently flush the eye with saline.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Your vet assesses the eye itself, and the discharge. Often they stain the surface of the eye with fluorescein to rule out corneal ulcer or wound. Once these diagnostics are done, they usually have a good idea of the nature of the problem.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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