Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Vision Seems Poor, Running into Things or Objects

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

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

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

  • If you feel the problem is severe or has come on suddenly.

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

  • If you consider this a chronic and relatively mild problem that is not changing rapidly.

Occasionally a horse seems to have trouble seeing. It may appear to spook easily, appear clumsy, or even run into objects. Sometimes these observations are truly indicative of blindness or poor vision. Other times there might be another explanation, such as an underlying neurologic condition or other illness. In some cases, clumsy behavior is simply normal for a particular horse.

Foals can appear to have trouble seeing. However, in many cases, this turns out to be normal foal behavior and their sight is usually fine.

WHAT TO DO

Given the importance of your horse’s sight, do not allow whatever condition is causing this to continue or worsen. Monitor your horse for other signs of illness or abnormalities and discuss your findings with your vet.

Assess the horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), paying particular attention to the eyes. Compare the eyes to one another. Does the eye appear normal? Do you notice grayness? Is the pupil dilated on one or both sides?

You can perform a simple blindness test on your horse (see the 2 related skills Assess Vision and Assess Menace Response). Try to determine whether this problem exists throughout the day and night, or only occurs after sunset.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

As you might expect, assessing vision in horses is far more difficult than in people. Your vet can roughly assess vision in a clinical exam and can rule out certain eye conditions in an eye exam.

Depending on their findings, and if there are lingering questions, they may recommend referral to a veterinary opthalmologist.

POSSIBLE TREATMENTS or TherapiesTo Lessen or Resolve the Sign

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

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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