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Meet Benson... (Eye Ulcer)

Benson jpegOur first in patient was Benson.   He was presented at 5 months old still with his mother.   His right eye was closed and he had what appeared to be puss running from the corner of the eye.


On examination it was clearly more serious than a case of conjunctivitis.   There was a large ulcer on the front of his eye, the cornea, which had become infected with a type of bacteria which was melting his eye.   This is an emergency where a couple of hours longer could have resulted in Benson losing the eye.   Most injuries heal through molecules travelling in a good blood supply.   There is no blood supply to the cornea as a series of vessels running across the front of the eye would impede vision.   This means that when the cornea is injured, blood vessels must grow across to the site of damage and this can take several days.   Most treatment is supportive until the eye can repair itself.


Infected eyeBenson’s eye was so seriously injured and complicated by infection that it was literally about to “pop”!   The intense pain in eye injuries causes the horse to close it tightly; there is also excess tear production and inflammation within the eye itself.   Benson and his mother were taken up to the clinic facilities at Hatters Farm where his treatment began.


He received antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs in the form of drops.   As well as a drug to open his pupil this helps with pain relief, also in drops.   These were administered every hour day and night.   As well as the drugs we also took blood from Benson and separated the red blood cells and clotting factors which are no use, this leaves the serum which is useful in slowing the degeneration of the cornea until a blood supply can reach the ulcer.   The serum was added to the eye at the same time as the other drugs.


Benson was treated intensively for several weeks before recovering.   There was the possibility he could lose the eye at any time if he had not responded to the drugs and treatment given.   He now has approximately 50% vision in the affected eye due to a large scar across the front of his cornea but it causes him no pain or discomfort.


The eye is a unique sense organ for which there are no spare parts.   It is protected well by the eyelids and production of tears but it is often the body’s response to, or infection of, a relatively minor injury which causes the severe pain and risk of loss of sight seen quite often.


Eye problems should be considered an emergency.   Therefore it is always worth calling, even if just for advice, as a couple of hours can make all the difference.


Benson was lucky.   If his owner had been less vigilant and Benson hadn’t been seen until the following day, he would probably have lost the eye.



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