Coping with eye injuries

  • If your horse keeps his eye closed, it means it hurts. Infections, inflammation and foreign bodies in the eye can all cause him discomfort and an obvious discharge from the eye itself. Don’t ignore it, contact your vet.

    What to do

    • Wipe away any discharge you can and keep flies off the eye.

      You can apply Vaseline around the eye to reduce the skin being scalded by the discharge.

      Never try to force the eyelids open if they are shut as you could damage the eye further.

    • If something is sticking out of the eyeball, don’t pull it out, as it could be a part of the eye itself. If you can, gently bathe around the eye. Boiled then cooled water is best in an emergency.

      If an irritant chemical has been splashed into the eye, flush it with clean water. If in doubt, consult your vet.

    • A horse will often try to rub an injured eye, making it worse. Use a pair of blinkers to protect the eye or stay with your horse to stop him rubbing it while professional help is sought.

      If possible, an ice pack in between layers of soft cloth may help to soothe it.


    • Many horses with eye problems are sensitive to light. Place them in a quiet, dust-free, dark, fly-free stable. Feed hay on the floor (as opposed to a haynet) to minimise dust getting in their eyes.

    • Any eyelid wound involving the eyelid margin should be repaired by your vet to avoid later complications.

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