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


Eyelid is Drooping or Eye is Closed


Horses with a variety of irritating or painful eye conditions appear have a droopy lid or a partially closed eye. This observation overlaps with squinting and with swelling of the lids. However, a truly drooping lid can also be directly caused by neurologic dysfunction of the nerve that controls the eyelid.

  • Code Orange

    Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours
    • If you notice other problems with the eye or the eye seems inflamed and painful.
    • Most eye problems are considered veterinary emergencies.
  • Code Yellow

    Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment
    • If the eye appears otherwise normal.
You also might be observing
Very Common
Less Common
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your role


What To Do

Assess your horse's general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), paying particular attention to their attitude. Look carefully at the eyelid and eye, noting any other observations. Compare the appearance of the affected eye to the unaffected eye. Compare the pupil size of one eye versus the other. Look for sagging of the muzzle or lips on that side. Share your findings and concerns with your vet.

your vet's role

Your vet will rule out common eye conditions that could be leading to this observation. If these are ruled out, they may look for other signs that would suggest a neurologic deficit.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Has the horse had any other signs of a problem?
  • How does it compare to the other one?
  • Do you notice the eye watering or any discharge?
  • Can you see anything else going on with the eye(s)?
  • Are one or both eyes affected?
  • Does your horse seem normal otherwise?
  • How long have you noticed this?
  • Is the horse showing signs of eye discomfort like squinting or blinking or holding the eye closed?
  • How is your horse's attitude and appetite?
  • 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.

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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