Age increasing susceptibility to eye ulcers?

I’ve got a pony mare in her early 20’s that I’ve owned for 13 years. She’s now on her 3rd eye ulcer in six months (first two in the right eye, this one in the left). Prior to this, she’d never had any eye issues whatsoever.

The vets think it’s just coincidence. The last ones took months to heal so I’m expecting the same again. It’s really a nuisance, and an expensive one at that!

I’m wondering if it’s simply age increasing her susceptibility to an ulcer forming after a minor scratch to the eye. Vets mentioned cushings as a possibility, she’s got no classic symptoms and has previously been tested, although the last was probably a few years ago.

She is otherwise fit and healthy. Has a slight amount of hind end ataxia that appeared two years ago and has improved substantially since. She has had one bout of laminitis in 2016 that was an acute response to an injury. Otherwise she’s been a quite injury and illness free horse her whole life.

I am not a vet and I do not play one on TV.

I had a horse with a long term eye issue and dealt with a vet that specialized in eyes at least 2x per year. She never mentioned aging as being part of the problem with his eye issues or eye ulceration issues. (Now, this might be because it is not an issue or it might be because she never felt it was worth mentioning because it would not change anything.)

I assume your vet has looked to see if your horse is having issues with her sight? Because if she is losing some of her sight that might be why she is suddenly poking herself in the eyes.

Testing for cushings is never a bad thing on a horse that age.


They are finding that frequent eye ulcers are part of Cushings.

My 29-year-old has lived that!

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Now is a lovely time to test for PPID. AFAIK, the Cornell ACTH or whatever blood test is currently on free promotion.


Ditto doing the ACTH test right now, the timing is perfect.

If that’s normal, and I mean normal taking into account the seasonal rise, not iffy, not questionable, truly normal, then you can still consider adding Prascend at maybe 1/2mg a day and see if the eye issues go away, treating the symptoms, not the numbers.

Or, do the TRH Stim test in December and see what that shows. The Stim test picks up PPID earlier/at lower levels than the ACTH test does.

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Did the vet do a Schirmer tear tests to see if there is adequate tear production?

My older pony mare had the same thing, which led us to Cushings testing, which was positive. Knock on wood, it has been better since treating the cushings

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Sounds like we need to rerun the cushings test! Not sure what deal you guys are talking about on it but I doubt that extends to Australia unfortunately! I’ll ask them about that on the likely inevitable revisit.

I also just received an eye watering bill for the 10 minute consult and meds…next time I’ll be asking if I can just get the meds! I understand the reasoning behind a consult but the ulcer itself was blindingly obvious and at this point I know what I’m dealing with.

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