Horse Recovering from New Glaucoma Procedure

VIDEO | A horse that underwent a rare endoscopic laser eye procedure is showing normal intraocular pressure (IOP), a key indication that the procedure has brought his glaucoma under control.

In November, veterinary ophthalmologists from the Animal Eye Clinic in Medford, N.J., performed a new procedure called endoscopic cyclophotocoagulation on the right eye of Alomar, a 13-year-old Anglo-Trakehner gelding. (For more on this see Veterinary Ophthalmologists Using New Equipment to Correct Glaucoma.)

Video: Watch the endoscopic laser procedure.

Watch surgeons perform endoscopic cyclophotocoagulation, the laser procedure used to treat Alomar's glaucoma.

Video courtesy Dr. Thomas Evans.

In glaucoma an overabundance of fluid elevates IOP, and, if left uncontrolled, it eventually damages the optic nerve and causes blindness.

During the 23-minute procedure, James M Clinton, VMD, Dipl. ACVO, of Medford, worked through a tiny incision to apply laser beams to the ciliary body to inhibit the production of excess fluid within the eye.

Even after discontinuing his glaucoma medications two weeks postoperatively, Alomar's IOP has held steady at a normal 16 mm HG. This is a good sign that glaucoma is controlled, said Thomas Evans, DVM, a resident in veterinary ophthalmology who has been treating the horse.

Alomar’s owner, Marilyn Peterson, said the horse appears to be recovering vision in the eye: “Alomar has been very excited to show me that he can see. Every time he passes a mirror, he stops and looks at himself.”

The procedure has been performed in humans with a 90-95% success rate, but it is rarely performed in animals due to the cost of the specialized equipment ($40,000 to $45,000). In horses glaucoma is most often a condition secondary to uveitis (inflammation of the uvea), although Alomar has primary glaucoma.

It might take another 30 to 60 days to know whether Alomar's vision will fully return. Still, the outcome is positive enough to possibly cause a shift in the way glaucoma is treated in horses.

"Medical treatment options are often used first," noted Evans. "With our positive surgical experience with this horse, early surgical intervention (in future patients) may be indicated."

About the Author

Judith Lee

Judith Lee is a freelance health care writer who has written for a number of medical and health care journals and health care companies. As a long-time equestrian and horse owner, she has a particular interest in equine health care. She also operates an equestrian education program, Riding for Fun, geared toward adult beginners and returning riders.

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