The Horse

JAN 2019

The Horse:Your Guide To Equine Health Care provides monthly equine health care information to horse owners, breeders, veterinarians, barn/farm managers, trainer/riding instructors, and others involved in the hands-on care of the horse.

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Inquiries to: 859/276-6726 E-Mail: ERICA LARSON, News Editor @TH_EricaLarson 10 January 2019 The Horse | Recent study results sug- gest it's not easy for owners to spot ocular diseases: They could detect them in less than 4% of study horses, when researchers found issues in nearly 90%. "Horses are prey animals and, therefore, good at hiding any signs of discomfort or weakness that would make them more vulnerable," said Fernando Malalana, DVM, GPCert(EqP), Dipl. ECEIM, FHEA, MRCVS, RCVS, Euro- pean specialist in equine in- ternal medicine, of the U.K.'s University of Liverpool Philip Leverhulme Equine Hospital, Leahurst. "A lot of chronic eye disorders go unnoticed while the disease process and discomfort continue in the background." Malalana and colleagues analyzed survey results about 974 senior horses' ocu- lar health before performing exams on a third of them to look for problems outside and inside the eye. Owners reported that 3.3% of the horses had vision prob- lems, eye pain, discharge, or lesions. But when the clinical team investigated 327 of these horses themselves, they found that 87.8% had eye abnor- malities, ranging from mild to severe, including: ■ Cataracts in nearly 33%; ■ Corneal lesions in nearly 14% (although many had healed, scarring remained); and ■ Posterior segment lesions— those deep within the eye, including problems with the retina and/or optic nerve— in almost 85%. Fortunately, Malalana said, most of these lesions didn't significantly impact vision. Less than 6% of the horses had reduced vision on clinical exam (measured by menace response—if the horse blinks in response to an approaching hand). Still, only 1.1% of horse owners said the horses had vision problems. The low reporting rates don't appear to be from a lack of care or observation, Ma- lalana said. On the contrary, it's possible that the 3.3% re- porting rate is high compared to the general horse-owning population, because the researchers recruited study owners from associations that encourage attentive observa- tion at home, he said. The best way to determine if a horse has eye pain is to "look at the angles of the eye- lashes," said Malalana. "Both sets of eyelashes should be symmetrical and parallel or almost parallel to the ground. If an eye is painful, the angle of the eyelashes will drop." Owners should contact their veterinarians if they suspect a problem, an eye appears more closed than nor- mal, or there's any discharge, he added, as eye issues can worsen rapidly. Read more at TheHorse. com/163118. —Christa Lesté-Lasserre, MA Y ou've owned your senior horse for a long time. You've been with him through his ups and downs, and it's clear when he's not feel- ing his best. But do you know how well he can see? Most Old Horses Have Eye Problems ISTOCK.COM NEWSFRONT New Way to Repair OCD Lesions Traditional surgical osteochondritis dissecans (OCD, "dead" areas of cartilage and growing bone in joints) treatment typically consists of removing damaged tissue and hoping fresh cartilage and bone replace it; this happens best in small lesions. Larger lesions, however, are more challenging to heal. Researchers tested a new repair method that involves removing damaged tissue and replacing it with three layers of bioengi- neered tissue custom-cut to fit the lesion. Fergal J. O'Brien, PhD, FAS, CEng, FIEI, FEAMBES, MRIA, of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, in Dublin, et al. tested the technique on a 15-month-old Warmblood filly with large OCD lesions in both stifles. After 22 months the mare was sound and working under saddle, and ultrasound exam revealed she had healthy tissue in the affected areas. "We were pleasantly surprised," he said. "My initial impression was that the lesions were too big for healing to occur." How Anatomically Accurate Are Stifle MRIs? The stifle is a common injury site in performance horses, but there's little information on how accurate high-field MRI—the gold standard for diagnosing soft-tissue and cartilage abnormalities—is for depicting stifle structures, due to the limited availability of scanners large enough to accommodate this part of the horse's body. But researchers from Colorado State University's College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, in Fort Collins, recently found that MRI allowed them to accurately evaluate each structure within the stifle. "We are still very much in the infancy of MRI for evaluation of the equine stifle, but I think it will be particularly useful for the evaluation of the cruciate ligaments and for (visualizing) damage to the articular cartilage and subchondral bone of the tibia," said Myra Barrett, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVR. STUDY SHORTS Researchers found ocular problems in nearly 90% of senior horses evaluated in a recent study.

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