Blind Horse Regains Sight After Laser Surgery

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“Ego-Trip”

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A thoroughbred suffering from blindness caused by glaucoma can now see after Florida doctors performed laser surgery on the horse earlier this year.

The 11-year-old horse, Ego-Trip, was already blind in his left-eye due to a previous trauma.

Owners Lisa and Larry Dahl and their 15-year-old daughter Victoria noticed Ego’s right-eye becoming cloudy as his behavior began to change.

“Ego was bumping into things and not acting the same,” said Lisa Dahl. “We realized he was going totally blind.”

Dr. Franck Ollivier, an ophthalmologist for horses at the Equine Surgi-Care Center in Brandon, Florida examined Ego in March, 2007.

Ego’s right eye was diagnosed with glaucoma, which affects less than 1 percent of horses. Swollen and bulging out of its socket, it was the size of a pingpong ball.

A 1,000-pound blind animal isn’t safe to ride, and caring for him is difficult.

Most are put down.

Instead, veterinary ophthalmologist Franck Ollivier performed laser eye surgery on Ego’s right eye in April.

The surgery relieved pressure caused by fluid build-up from the glaucoma.

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The Diode laser used in the surgery was from Florida Veterinary Specialists and CancerTreatmentCenter in Tampa, a state-of-the-art specialty veterinary facility where Dr. Ollivier also practices ophthalmology for pets.

The laser procedure was a first for the Surgi-CareCenter, which has been treating horses from Florida‘s west coast for 13 years at its Bloomingdale Avenue hospital.

Dr. Olliver stated that “Glaucoma is also the number one cause of blindness in people, which is significant.

We treated Ego with a Diode laser to decrease the production of liquid inside the eye, and therefore decrease the pressure. Since then, Ego is now visual and comfortable.”

Ollivier pronounced the surgery a success. Ego has 50 to 60 percent vision in his right eye, and Tori is able to safely ride him again.

“The next day after surgery, Ego returned home was back to acting like his old-self again.” said Lisa.

Ego has since returned to the hospital for a check-up. Ollivier said it was crucial because glaucoma is so rare in horses and there are no clinical studies to predict the outcome.

Ollivier said there’s a chance Ego might need another round of laser treatment in a year or so.

“Hopefully we don’t have to cross that bridge again,” Dahl said.

Ego will never be the race horse or the jumper he once was, but that’s fine with Tori.

The Dahls have been working with Ego, schooling him for a dressage career. “Sight is not as important in dressage as it is for jumping,” says Lisa.

“We’ve been working with him in dressage for about a month and he’s doing great.”

“He was my first horse and probably the only horse I’ll ever have,” she said.

“We’re very thankful.”

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Ego looks as if he knows his person made it possible for him to regain his sight. He looks so grateful and loving. You can see what a close relationship he has with his owner.

  2. Hi Jolynna,
    Great to hear from you.

    Horses sure do show their appreciation. Amazing how they express it.

  3. Glad to find you. I have a one eyed horse by trauma. Could you know any ophtalmic vet in Italy?
    Thanks Sam

    ~~~
    Sam, Sorry to hear about the trauma to your horse. Perhaps your personal vet can refer you.I’ve tried to find information in Italy for you. The best I have found is: Italian Society of Veterinary Ophthalmology in Genoa.

    Also, you could contact Brian Gilger, DVM, Professor, Ophthalmology in the USA. Perhaps he could refer you.

    Dr. Gilger’s email is : brian_gilger@ncsu.edu

  4. Blind horses can be wonderful companions and mounts. I have three of them and they are very safe. I am so glad for your horse but I don’t want others to think that they have to be put down. Please visit flurryshope.com to find out how to work with blind horses. We use them in our therapeutic riding program as well as on trails.


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