A Guide to Cataracts in Horses

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It is likely that you have heard about humans developing cataracts – a clouding of the eye lens that can impair vision if left untreated. But did you know that it's not only humans that can be affected by cataracts? There are, in fact, many species of animals that can suffer from this condition, including horses. If you are a horse owner, your animal is no doubt your pride and joy, and you will want to keep her in the healthiest condition possible, so here's what you need to know about equine cataracts.

Causes of Cataracts in Horses

If you find that your horse has cataracts, this could actually be for a number of reasons. For some animals, the cataracts are genetic and passed on from mother to foal, and this means that the cataracts will be there from birth. As with humans, it could also be the ageing process that brings on cataracts. A case of cataracts could, however, be brought on by something like an infection as well.

How to Spot Cataracts in Your Horse

The most common way of spotting cataracts is by looking for an amount of cloudiness or milkiness in the eye – a build-up of protein on the lens that demonstrates itself as cloudiness. Of course, you may also simply notice some problems with eyesight if your horse is less sure on her feet when riding or uncomfortable around people.

Why It Is Important to Have Cataracts Treated

It's a very good idea to have equine cataracts treated simply for your horse to have an improved quality of life with better vision. If you like to put your horse to use and she is ridden often, it's also important to have cataracts cleared up because this will impair the riding experience. Your horse will also feel uncomfortable around strangers with impaired vision, which could lead to erratic and potentially dangerous behaviours.

How Cataracts Can Be Treated

If you suspect that your horse has eye problems, take her to see an equine vet as soon as possible. As long as there are not any other issues with the eye, such as infections or inflammations, it is possible for a vet to perform surgery that replaces the lens completely; although, it should be noticed that the surgery does not yield the desired results all the time because horses' eyes are large and difficult to work with. Following surgery, a horse has to be treated with medications for months and should be kept in a dark space, and exercise minimally.

If you have more questions about caring for your horses, contact an experienced vet.