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Eye Socket Fractures in HorsesBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · February 16, 2015

Your horse is frisking in the field with his best pasture buddy. Their play starts to gets rougher, and suddenly you see your horse recoiling from a kick that landed directly on his face. By the time you reach him, the area around his eye is pushed in and blood is running from his nose. You call the veterinarian, who promises to come right away. Will your horse recover from this occurrence, and if he does, will his face always bear the marks of the injury?  

In a study conducted at North Carolina University, researchers looked at the records of 18 horses treated for orbital fractures, or breaks in one or more of the bones surrounding the eye. Some of the horses had been kicked, while other injuries were the result of rearing in a trailer or running into a tree.

Of the 18 horses in the study, surgeons worked on 15 to realign large bone fragments, remove smaller fragments, or wire the fragments together, allowing them to heal in the proper position. In general, horses with bleeding from the nostrils, inflammation of the sinuses, and/or multiple fractures tended to have less favorable outcomes than those with less severe injuries. Normal vision was compromised in four of the horses, but 13 were able to return to their previous levels of performance, and more than half were restored to a normal appearance. The researchers concluded that surgical treatment was effective in these horses, and described their prognosis as favorable.

As with any serious injury, the outcome is likely to be better if attention from a veterinarian occurs soon after the accident occurs.