The eye has it

The strange white fibers in Nash's eye, just above the arrow, were the cause of our recent visit to the vet.
The strange white fibers in Nash’s eye, just above the arrow, were the cause of our recent visit to the vet.

Just a quick update on Nash.  Wednesday was the trip to the veterinary ophthalmologist.  The last time that Nash left home it was to get a definitive diagnosis on his pelvic fracture, two years ago.  On that visit, he was a bit of a handful – prancing around as if he were a stallion looking to impress a new band of mares.  It had been a replay of several years ago, on the only other occasion I’ve trailered him since he came here eleven years ago.  So, I was prepared for silliness, in spite of the triple digit temperatures.  But I “bought” myself a little insurance.

The day before our appointment we gave him some VitaCalm in his grain.  I have no conclusive proof that it works, but for occasional use like this, it certainly does no harm.  Around noon on the day of the appointment he got another dose.  I still could not tell you if it helped, but I will say he was a rather well mannered gentleman!

Something about this horse gets attention every time he goes out.  His color is the obvious draw, but he also gets many comments on his sturdy physique.  This trip was no exception, with several passersby commenting on how handsome he was.  He was far more interested in the horses around us, several times starting a chorus with his high pitched bugling.  Silly old man!

The news from the vet was much as I expected.  My own vet, based upon my description over the phone, surmised that Nash had luxated the lens of his right eye.  She had never seen anything like I described, but knowing eye anatomy, it was the only logical explanation she could come up with.  Well, it turns out she was bang on!  The white strands that were visible are the vitreous that is normally found behind the lens.  With the lens out of the way, the vitreous is no longer blocked from coming through the opening of the pupil.

A diagram of what Nash's eye now looks like on the inside.
A diagram of what Nash’s eye now looks like on the inside, with the lens now resting on the bottom.

The good news is that his lens fell back into his eye – basically the tissue that holds it in place gave way at the top, and it toppled backward until it landed on the floor of the eye.  Sounds odd to find that good news, I know.  Well, the other option is that the lens falls through the pupil, into the front of the eye – and this sets up a pressure situation where the usual treatment ends up with eye removal.

Also good to hear is that he’s not entirely blind in that eye – he’s just looking through the upper part of the pupil, and is apparently seeing things as if through a film of water.  So, he can see forms in high contrast situations, he just doesn’t have focus or vision in low light and low contrast situations.  The best news was that his left eye looks incredibly healthy, so he should have healthy vision there.  In fact, even the right eye looked so healthy, other than the lens placement, that the vet really isn’t sure why this happened.  Normally it would be caused by a traumatic injury, or a degenerative condition – signs of neither showing in Nash’s eye.

The vet told me that most horses get spooky on the side of the bad eye, in cases like this.  When I told him that we’ve seen no changes in his behavior, he said it was a testament to Nash’s temperament and to his trust in us.  Both of those are nice things to hear.

No treatment is beneficial, or recommended, in this case.  Surgery could be done, but it would only be to remove the lens – and the risk of complications is high.  Since he has some level of vision, there would seem no point to remove the lens.  All we have to do is keep a look out for any signs of discomfort.

Nash back home again.
Nash back home again.

The woman at checkout asked me if I got good news that day.  I laughed, not quite sure how to answer that.  It certainly wasn’t bad news, but I’m not sure that an irreversible condition could be classified as “good” news either.  My final answer was “As good as could be expected, under the circumstances.”  Tepid … but honest.

The last time we were there, the old codger did not want to get back in the trailer.  We only got him in after two older cowboy types gave him some noisy encouragement from behind.  So, with the sun beating down, we were expecting the worse.  Perhaps my painstaking work with trailer loading paid off.  Or perhaps the previous trip taught him that the trailer was his ticket out of that place.  Whatever the reason, with only a slight hesitation, Nash climbed into the trailer like a good boy!  A huge relief with the thermometer registering 105!

This weekend will be less horsey than I’d like, as tomorrow we have an obligation to attend a memorial service – and the temperatures, while a bit lower, are not conducive to mid-afternoon outdoor activities.  But, Sunday looks hopeful!  Something to ponder as I’m sitting in the church tomorrow …

Be good to your horses!



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