Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Eye Squinting or Blinking Excessively

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

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

  • Most eye problems are considered veterinary emergencies.

Squinting or blinking is a reflex that happens when the eye is irritated by something, is painful, or when there is a threat of contact or trauma to the eye.

In some cases, squinting is more obvious when a horse is exposed to bright light. This sometimes is obvious in horses with eye inflammation. Recognize this as a sign of eye irritation or pain.


Given the importance of your horse’s sight, do not allow this condition to continue or worsen over time.

If possible, examine the eye and under the eyelids for foreign material. Look for accompanying signs of tearing, swelling around the eye, changes in appearance of the front clear chamber of the eye (cornea) or reddening of the white of the eye. Compare the two eyes. Promptly share your findings and concerns with your vet.

If you suspect there is foreign material, you can try washing the eye out with saline. Applying an ice pack to the eye for a few moments may help reduce inflammation. Consider applying a fly mask to shade and protect the eye until your vet can examine it.


Vets are equipped to assess the eye thoroughly. They use a variety of techniques to facilitate that, including nerve blocks which paralyze the lids allowing a thorough examination of the eye.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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