WSU Horse Eye Care Available at Eastern Washington Satellite

It is not unusual for horses to develop an eye problem, be it from an infection, injury, or cancer. While many veterinarians treat eye issues, there are some that can turn into serious problems and may need advanced eye care. These can include non-healing corneal ulcers, deep ulcers, traumatic injuries, perforations, cancers in and around the eye, and an inflammatory disease of the eye called equine recurrent uveitis (ERU). In the past, Eastern Washington horse owners had to go to Spokane for advanced eye care, or over to Western Washington near Seattle. Now horses with difficult eye problems can come to WSU's Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Pullman for treatment.

Several years ago, WSU teamed up with Spokane veterinary ophthalmologist Dr. Bill Yakely to form a combined ophthalmology residency program to treat animals with eye problems and train veterinarians seeking board-certification as eye care specialists. Yakely has practiced veterinary ophthalmology for more than 30 years and owns the Animal Eye Clinic of Spokane. In December, the practice will move into WSU's satellite clinic in Spokane.

Terri Schneider, DVM, a WSU clinical assistant professor and veterinarian, recently completed her residency training through this program and is in the process of becoming a board-certified ophthalmologist. She is currently seeing both large and small animals at WSU's Veterinary Teaching Hospital on Thursdays and Fridays. She also sees cases at the Animal Eye Clinic of Spokane on Mondays and Tuesdays. Patients that can be seen include horses, dogs, cats, alpacas, and exotic animals. To schedule an appointment at WSU, horse owners can contact Lynette Kinzer at the equine desk at 509/335-0711.

"Animals can be seen by referral or owner scheduling. Typically, the cases we see are referred because of a failure to respond to treatment or the animals have complicated ocular problems," Schneider said. "Many times, general practitioners refer eye problems because certain conditions can deteriorate rapidly and the eye is not very forgiving. "Some problems are curable, and others such as ERU need to be managed and controlled to keep the animal's vision.

"Even if the animal can't see, there are ways to make the animal more comfortable," she said.

Many conditions like chronic eye ulcers can be treated medically. Surgery can also be performed for traumatic injuries or other qualifying conditions. Some cases that come to WSU with cancers in and around the eye, including squamous cell carcinomas, are handled in a team fashion with the equine medicine and surgery service and oncology service.

"WSU is a great place for us to see horses because of the combined services offered here and the available equipment," Schneider said. "One thing we do not do is cataract surgery on horses either at WSU or the Animal Eye Clinic in Spokane."

In addition to treating patients, Schneider teaches an ophthalmology course to second-year WSU veterinary students, and trains fourth-year veterinary students about ophthalmology as they work alongside her treating patients that come to the Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

For more information about ophthalmology care for horses or to make an appointment, contact the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital at 509/335-0711 or the Animal Eye Clinic of Spokane at 509/535-9394.

Reprinted from the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine Equine News Winter 2010 issue.

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