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


Eye is Draining, Discharge


Thick yellow or pale white discharge from the eye is usually composed of inflammatory cells or pus. It is a natural response to injury and may result from a wound to the eye or eyelid, infection, foreign material in the eye, cancer associated with the eye, or any other inflammatory process.

It is also commonly seen when the eye is irritated by flies, excessive dust, or other airborne debris. When both eyes are affected, this can suggest a body-wide process or disease.

  • 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.
  • Code Orange

    Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours
    • If you consider this a chronic and relatively mild problem that is not changing rapidly.
    • If the eye appears otherwise normal.
You also might be observing
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your role


What To Do

Given the importance of your horse's sight, do not allow this condition to continue or worsen over time. Assess your horse's eyes carefully and try to determine whether this problem may be caused by environmental factors, such as dust, wind or flies. Share your findings and concerns with your vet. If it is easy to do so, gently flush the eye with saline.

What Not To Do

Do not use "any old ophthalmic ointment" without talking to your vet first. Some ointments contain steroids, which could be damaging to the eye under certain circumstances.

your vet's role

Your vet assesses the eye itself, and the discharge. Often they stain the surface of the eye with fluorescein to rule out corneal ulcer or wound. Once these diagnostics are done, they usually have a good idea of the nature of the problem. Common conditions are corneal ulcer and foreign material in the eye.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Do you notice anything else wrong with the horse's eye?
  • Is there swelling of the area around your horse's eye?
  • Are one or both eyes affected?
  • When did you first notice this?

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