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


Eye looks Ruptured


Your horse's eye looks collapsed and is draining a jelly-like fluid. There may be swelling of the eyelids and the eye may be difficult to see. In most cases, horses are in severe pain and will hold the eye closed, making any assessment difficult or impossible without veterinary help.

If you can see it, you will likely see an eyeball that is smaller than the normal size, with or without an obvious tear in the clear surface. The iris may be pushed through this - a small, dark mass bulging from the surface of the eye. A clear liquid may be running down the face.

Eyeball rupture is rare and usually the result of a severe blow or direct trauma to the head. The most common cause is a when a horse falls to the ground and sustains an impact injury when the eye hits the ground directly. Chronic, long-standing eye infection of the cornea (corneal ulcer) can also ultimately result in perforation leakage of the inner liquid (aqueous humor), and collapse of the eyeball. A long standing ruptured eye becomes shrunken, raisin-like.

  • Code Red

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

your role


What To Do

Involve your vet immediately with any eye injury because delay in diagnosis or treatment can have sight-threatening consequences.

your vet's role

Your vet may sedate and anesthetize the horse adequately to allow initial examination. At that point, treatment options can be given. If severe traumatic injury is treated promptly, there may be hope for surgical repair and restoration of vision. Referral to an ophthalmologic specialist may be advised.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • How do you think this happened?
  • Can you see damage to the globe or eyeball?
  • Give me directions to your current location, so I can get to you as soon as possible.
  • What exactly are you seeing that makes you think the eyeball (globe) is ruptured?

further reading & resources

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP