It isn’t easy handling a horse with moon blindness. For some owners, the difficulty may stem partly from not knowing what the disease really is. Even if you think your horse is not at risk, you should find out as much as you can about this condition.
What it Is Moon Blindness
As the term suggests, moon blindness is an eye condition. It does not however always lead to complete blindness. Horses only go blind if the condition is left untreated for a long time. The condition got its name because horse owners of long ago originally thought that the symptoms accompanying moon blindness occurred with the cycles of the moon. It is however more properly called equine recurrent uveitis.
Causes of Moon Blindness
There are a couple of different possible causes for the condition. It is commonly believed that parasites, viruses and bacteria are major culprits. One bacterium in particular, Leptospira, is a common bacterial cause. Horses may catch a bacterial infection from other horses and animals or from contaminated food, water and surroundings. Poorly kept stables and facilities could therefore be an indirect cause of moon blindness. The terrible thing about some bacteria is that they may already be infecting a horse without causing an immediate manifestation of symptoms. Horse owners may therefore not suspect that an infection is developing for as long as two years. By this time, treatment may become difficult.
It is also possible that injury or trauma to the eye could cause the condition. It is likely that if the eye is injured, bacteria could find their way to the eye and cause an infection.
Symptoms of Moon Blindness
Horse owners have to be very observant to be able to detect early signs of moon blindness in horses. A horse may seem healthy at first and may only exhibit eye squinting, avoidance of light and occasional tripping. In more severe cases, a horse may have cloudy eyes, pus discharges and watery eyes. When in the dark, the eyes of the horse will remain constricted.
Outward signs that a horse is experiencing pain and discomfort may also point to the condition. It is partly because of the pain and the reduced ability to see that a horse may not be able to respond well to humans and may even move violently. If an owner does not suspect moon blindness even at an advanced stage, a horse may accidentally injure itself or injure humans.
Treatment of Moon Blindness
Some horse owners may opt for surgery. This however is not always a practical solution. If the condition is still in its early stages, your horse may do well with medication. Some medicines that may be prescribed include antibiotics, banamine, steroids, bute and aspirin. Administering steroids however when there are eye ulcers may lead to blindness. Treatment option should be tailored according to the particular condition of the affected horse.
It is important to remember that moon blindness is a recurrent condition. Even if a horse’s eye is back to normal, another future episode of moon blindness could happen. Succeeding episodes are more serious and more difficult to treat.