Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Growth on Cornea, Clear Surface of Eye

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.
  • If the mass is large, painful or seems to be growing rapidly.

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

  • If the eye appears otherwise normal.
  • If the problem is subtle or slowly changing.
  • The eye does not seem painful and the horse does not seem distressed.

Growths on the clear surface of the eye are presumed to be tumors until proven otherwise. By far the most common type of corneal tumor is squamous cell carcinoma. This condition is especially common at high altitudes and in horses with pink skin around their eyes (Paints, Appaloosas).

Rarely, inflammatory and infectious conditions appear as a growth. Penetrating wounds through the cornea can allow the colored iris to pop out (prolapse) through the cornea. This can appear suddenly as a dark mass protruding from the clear surface of a painful, inflamed eye.

WHAT TO DO

Given the importance of your horse’s sight, do not allow any condition to continue or worsen over time without consulting your vet. Injuries to the eye can be sight-threatening, and require immediate veterinary attention. At minimum, assess your horse’s eye and share a photo of the problem with your vet for discussion.

Your vet may advise you to use a fly mask to protect the eye from insects and debris until it can be evaluated.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Vets can usually determine the general nature of an eye mass by examining it. In cases where the cause is unclear, biopsy or cell sampling may be necessary for identification. Once a diagnosis is made, treatment options can be discussed.

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

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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