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


Vision Seems Poor, Running into Things or Objects


Occasionally a horse seems to have trouble seeing. It may appear to spook easily, appear clumsy, or even run into objects. Sometimes these observations are truly indicative of blindness or poor vision. Other times there might be another explanation, such as an underlying neurologic condition or other illness. In some cases, clumsy behavior is simply normal for a particular horse.

Foals can appear to have trouble seeing. However, in many cases, this turns out to be normal foal behavior and their sight is usually fine.

  • Code Orange

    Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours
    • If you feel the problem is severe or has come on suddenly.
  • Code Yellow

    Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment
    • If you consider this a chronic and relatively mild problem that is not changing rapidly.
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 whatever condition is causing this to continue or worsen. Monitor your horse for other signs of illness or abnormalities and discuss your findings with your vet.

Assess the horse's general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), paying particular attention to the eyes. Compare the eyes to one another. Does the eye appear normal? Do you notice grayness? Is the pupil dilated on one or both sides?

You can perform a simple blindness test on your horse (see the 2 related skills Assess Vision and Assess Menace Response). Try to determine whether this problem exists throughout the day and night, or only occurs after sunset.

What Not To Do

Do not assume that your horse is blind. There may be another explanation for this behavior.

your vet's role

As you might expect, assessing vision in horses is far more difficult than in people. Your vet can roughly assess vision in a clinical exam and can rule out certain eye conditions in an eye exam.

Depending on their findings, and if there are lingering questions, they may recommend referral to a veterinary opthalmologist.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • What, specifically are you seeing?
  • When did you first notice this problem?
  • How is your horse's attitude and appetite?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?
  • Do you notice anything wrong with the appearance of the horse's eyes?
  • Do the horses eyes seem normal to you?
  • What behavior are you seeing that leads you to think your horse is blind or sees poorly?
  • Does this occur regardless of day or night, or is it worse after sunset?
  • Do the horse's eyes appear different from one another?
  • Is the horse an Appaloosa or have Appaloosa bloodlines?

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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further reading & resources

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP