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Eye Exams for Sick FoalsBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · April 9, 2012

A study conducted at universities in Illinois, Michigan, and California found that many of the young foals (one month old or younger) referred to veterinary clinics for various maladies had significant eye abnormalities in addition to the primary illness.

During a period of 14 months, researchers examined 70 foals brought to the clinics for problems such as failure of passive transfer of immunity, diarrhea, or sepsis (generalized infection). More than half of the foals had uveitis (inflammation within the eye), enlarged blood vessels in the eye, retinal hemorrhage, cataracts, or ulcerated corneas. Some of these problems could have occurred because sepsis causes chemical changes that lead to inflamed, enlarged, or leaky blood vessels throughout the body.

In more than one-third of the cases, the eye problems were judged to be serious enough that they could have caused vision problems if left untreated. The results of the study suggest that eye examinations should be performed on young foals referred to clinics for any serious illness.