Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Watery Eye, Dry Nasal Tear Duct Opening

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 any change in appearance of the eye itself.
  • If you notice other problems with the eye or the eye seems inflamed and painful.
  • If you notice other problems with the eye or the eye seems inflamed and painful.

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

  • If the eye appears otherwise normal.

The normal tear duct runs from the inside corner of the eye to a small opening inside the nostril on the same side (nasal puncta). In a normal horse, this tiny opening should be moist, indicating tear passage through it. If the eye is watering and the puncta is dry, it follows that the nasolacrimal duct is probably blocked as a result of another problem.

This situation also occurs frequently when there is injury to or inflammation in the eye. The drainage system becomes overwhelmed by inflammatory debris and becomes blocked. The horse then has a runny, irritated eye and a dry nasal puncta. In this case, there may be more required for treatment than simply flushing the naso-lacrimal duct.

WHAT TO DO

Assess your horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE). Sponge the eye off with a wet, warm, clean towel. Examine the eye for injury or other abnormality. If the eye appears normal and there is little squinting, swelling or reddening, you may be able to monitor this yourself for awhile. However, if this condition worsens or is accompanied by any other abnormality, contact your vet immediately with your findings and concerns.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Your vet assesses the health of the eye and flushes the nasolacrimal duct if needed. Most importantly, they diagnose and treat conditions that may be causing the blockage and watery eye.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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