What you see. The starting point for addressing any equine health related issue is your observation.


Eyeballs Seem to be Pointing Different Directions


Centers in the brain stem control eyeball position through a reflex. Normal eyeball positioning requires normal functioning of several parts of the brain, the nerves that convey impulses between the brain and the eye, and the muscles that move the eyeball. "Eyeballs pointing in different directions" implies a problem in one of these anatomic areas.

This is a rare finding in adult horses, but much more common in foals. It can be seen in normal young foals and usually resolves over time. But it can also be a sign of damage or diseases that affect the brain and cranial nerve that control eye position.

Keep in mind that horses with different pigmentation around the eyeball (different whites of the eyes) can appear as though their eyes are pointing in different directions.

  • Code Red

    Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours
    • If you notice apparent wobbliness or weakness, in addition to this sign.
    • If the horse seems to have suddenly lost vision.
    • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) in the resting horse indicate fever (Temp >101F/38.3C) or heart rate greater than 48 BPM.
  • Code Yellow

    Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment
    • If the horse's appetite and attitude are normal and you see nothing else wrong.
    • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.
You also might be observing
Very Common
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your role


What To Do

Assess your horse's general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), and look for other signs of illness or disease. Pay particular attention the nervous system and compare one eye to the other. Assess your horse's eyes, and perform the menace response to roughly assess your horse's vision and reflexes.

Pay particular attention to attitude and appetite and normal movement, especially over obstacles like poles. Contact your vet with your findings and concerns.

your vet's role

Your vet performs physical and neurologic examinations in order to better understand the source of the problem and determine whether other diagnostics are necessary.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Can you send a photo of the problem?
  • Do you think the horse's attitude and appetite are normal?
  • How old is the foal?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?
  • Did the foal stand and nurse normally after foaling?
  • Does the foal appear bright, alert and responsive?
  • Is the foal active and nursing?

Diagnoses Your Vet May Consider

The cause of the problem. These are conditions or ailments that are the cause of the observations you make.

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Treatments Your Vet May Recommend

A way to resolve the condition or diagnosis. Resolving the underlying cause or treating the signs of disease (symptomatic treatment)

Very Common
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Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP