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


Eye Squinting or Blinking Excessively


Squinting or blinking is a reflex that happens when the eye is irritated by something, is painful, or when there is a threat of contact or trauma to the eye.

In some cases, squinting is more obvious when a horse is exposed to bright light. This sometimes is obvious in horses with eye inflammation. Recognize this as a sign of eye irritation or pain.

  • Code Red

    Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours
    • Most eye problems are considered veterinary emergencies.
You also might be observing
Very Common
Less Common
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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.

If possible, examine the eye and under the eyelids for foreign material. Look for accompanying signs of tearing, swelling around the eye, changes in appearance of the front clear chamber of the eye (cornea) or reddening of the white of the eye. Compare the two eyes. Promptly share your findings and concerns with your vet.

If you suspect there is foreign material, you can try washing the eye out with saline. Applying an ice pack to the eye for a few moments may help reduce inflammation. Consider applying a fly mask to shade and protect the eye until your vet can examine it.

your vet's role

Vets are equipped to assess the eye thoroughly. They use a variety of techniques to facilitate that, including nerve blocks which paralyze the lids allowing a thorough examination of the eye.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Is the horse's eye tearing or watering?
  • Does the area around the eye seem swollen?
  • Do you see foreign material in the eye?
  • Does the cornea (clear surface of the eye) look normal?
  • When did you first notice this?
  • Does the horse lack pigment (have pink skin) around the eye?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?

Diagnoses Your Vet May Consider

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

Very Common
Less Common
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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