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Ask the Expert: How to Deal With Cataracts in Horses

Q:

Can a cataract be successfully healed in a horse? If so, does their eyesight return to normal?
Thank you.

Dan


A:

Hello Dan,

Yes.
Cataracts in horses are classified by age of onset, cause, location and severity.  Many cases of cataracts in horses only partially obstruct vision making the risks and consequences of surgery unwarranted.  Even in cases of severe cataracts that do obstruct vision significantly, surgical removal of the lens is rarely done, largely because of the size of the animal and the risks of surgery   There are few studies that document the visual perception of horses without lens, so we don’t know how well they see following lens removal.  Many ophthalmologists consider absence of a lens an “unsoundness.”  So, while it is possible to remove the lens of the eye in horses, it is rarely performed and would only be possible at referral hospitals where access to a ophthalmology specialist was available.
David Sauter, DVM

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