Eyelid Folding Inwards in Horses
Entropion is a condition of the eye that is seen in neonatal foals where their eyelids fold inward and press against their cornea. Entropion may be found in one or both of the foal’s eyes. This creates a problem because the inward folding causes the eyelashes to rub against the cornea, resulting in corneal ulcerations. This needs to be corrected, otherwise scarring or permanent damage occurs to the eye.
A foal with entropion will have irritated or red eye(s) and the cornea — the transparent front of the eye — may change to a grayish color. The foal will also squint or be unable to open its eye. Additionally, extreme tear production will occur.
Entropion in foals is sometimes due to dehydration. In newborn foals, dehydration can cause the eyeballs to sink back into the skull, causing the eyelid to fold over. Other times, the foal can be completely healthy but it has not merely “grown in” to its eyelids yet.
A brief eye exam is all that is needed for a veterinarian to diagnose this condition.
While the pain and soreness associated with entropion can be treated using topical ophthalmic ointments, a surgical adjustment of the eyelid(s) is the only way to correct the condition. Stitches are placed on the outside of the affected lid that pull the lid (and eyelashes) out and away from the corneal surface. This is a very simple and quick procedure that can be done on the farm. These stitches are left in for a few weeks and then removed. Once the stitches are removed, the eyelid should be trained to properly position itself outwardly. Topical antibiotic ointment should also be used during this period to help the corneal ulcerations heal.
Living and Management
While a foal has stitches placed for this condition, daily monitoring of the eye is important. You will need to check to make sure that the foal has not rubbed the stitches out and that the eyelid hasn’t become inverted again despite the stitches. Daily observations will also allow you to monitor the healing of the cornea.
Entropion cannot be prevented, as it is congenital or secondary to another disease, such as one causing severe dehydration. Luckily, it can be fairly easily corrected and has no lasting affects on the foal’s eyesight.