Eye ulcers - how to know if it’s healing?

Pony came in yesterday with a slightly squinty, weepy eye. Turned out to be an ulcer, first time in 13 years of ownership I’ve had to deal with one of these! Vet wasn’t overly concerned as it’s quite minor and said it should resolve itself within a week or so, and gave ointment to apply.

Pony is quite happy and energetic so obviously not overly bothered by it, nor objecting much to having the ointment applied. My question is, how do I tell if it’s healing? I assume a reduction in squint/weepiness, and the visible little (barely a couple mm in diameter) white spot will reduce?

Have it stained again. Eyes are nothing to mess with and can go from fine to bad quickly.


Hopefully your vet did stain the eye?

Yes, it’s a great sign to see the eye more comfortable - more open, less tearing. But only your vet, with re-staining, can tell you how things are really healing. Not all ulcers are visible to the naked eye.

I assume your vet told you, but just in case - never ever put steroids near an ulcer eye. Meaning, if you ran out of/lost your ointment (which I assume is a Triple B?), and you decided to just find something else, make 100000% sure it doesn’t contain a steroid.


Yes, the antibiotic eye ointment usually works well- the cloudiness will reduce and the eye will become more comfortable for the horse in a few days, as long as everything is responding well. If not, you may need the vet back again- if this is the case, don’t wait. Good luck!

Like others have said, have the vet come again in a couple of weeks to stain the eye again. In the meantime, keep applying the antibiotic 3-4 times a day.

If this is just a tiny scratch it should heal in a couple of weeks. Sometimes, though, eye ulcers can take forever to heal. My horse once had a large corneal ulcer that took two months to clear up. It was never infected, and I kept applying antibiotic 3-4 times a day. It took so long that the vet was considering scraping the eye to get it to heal, but it finally healed on its own.

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BTDT last Summer.
Consider getting a flymask on to prevent rubbing & further damage.
TSC has a stretchy neoprene one that you can slip off one ear to apply ointment.
IIRC, I was medicating 3X daily for about 2wks.
Eye cleared up with minimal scarring (barely visible to me) that does not affect vision.

ETA: pic (friend called it his Face Bra :laughing:)


My vet is on the fence about masks for eye injuries. If anything about the eye is making it itch, the last thing you want is a fly mask potentially rubbing on the actual eyeball.

My mare put a wicked scratch on her eyeball a few years ago, and 1/2" long. I asked my vet about a mask, and the above is why she recommended against it, but she didn’t have a problem with using one if it was going to be really windy.

Cheers guys. Yes vet stained and debrided the other night, and is booked back for end of the week. I won’t be messing around with an eye, I have a vivid recollection of a horse at the barn when I was 15 who ended up needing one removed, couldn’t cope and was euthanised shortly after!

I’ve got a mask she often wears and is ok with, although the vet didn’t mention it. Their after hours fee was eye watering (doubled the bill!) but I’ve been with the practice for 13 years and they are usually excellent to deal with. Of course it happened after hours, couldn’t possibly expect a horse to do something at 11am on a weekday haha.


When my horse had his corneal abrasion I kept a mask on while he was turned out both to keep flies out of his eye and to reduce glare from the sun. I was worried it would get infected before it healed with flies crawling around on it, even with the antibiotic. And the eye seemed less painful with the mask filtering the light.

Buy Fluorescein Ophthalmic Strips and you can monitor healing yourself. Just don’t use them too often because they can be irritating. Once every few days is fine.

It seems to be bothering her a bit more this afternoon. Hoping that’s not a sign it’s getting worse!

I had a horse that made a habit of smacking and scratching his eyes. One of the things I did for him while he was healing was to put him in a breakaway halter with cheap fleece on the cheek pieces, nose, and crown. This kept the eye a bit protected. He would rip off fly masks and/or bend them towards his eyes. Eventually he lived in his halter fleeces and it greatly reduced his eye issues.

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Haha, going through this now myself. Saw swollen/weepy eye last night and thought maybe it was just sleepiness/light sensitivity. Nope, better this morning but still weepy and a little swollen. Vet doesn’t work today of course so I’ll also be paying for an emergency visit even though it will be Wednesday at 3pm.

What did your vet say? There shouldn’t be any going backwards when it comes to eyes healing


Totally agree with JB. How is she doing?

I dealt with this for the first time last winter. Several months and $$$$$$$$ and tears later, eyeball was left intact! Eye issues SUCK so hugs to you!!

If I had to do it all over, I’d skip ALL THE STEPS in between and just have the lavage inserted on day 1 - easier and more accurate way to get the meds in more regularly = faster healing and happier horse.

Also, its took A LOT of trial and error to get the right meds for whatever organism was causing the infection - sometimes it’s bacterial/sometimes fungal/sometimes both…and there are lots of options for each…Don’t be afraid to ask your vet to consider different drugs if you see any backsliding or lack of progress.

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Hard to say if what I perceived as irritation was genuinely irritation, or just her sick of having the ointment applied by round 5 for the day! She’s cooperating but very begrudgingly. This horse is one of those who rarely needs the vet, but when she does, she’s done something super fun (last one was neuro, the one before that was acute laminitis that had me almost lose her).

Any signs of it not getting better this morning and I’ll be getting the vet back out.


Little update, it looks better this morning! I have the ability to work from my dads house (where the horses live) so I’m doing that in order to keep a close eye on it. Vet is booked for a follow up tomorrow morning.


Vet report from this morning says it’s not getting worse, but it’s probably going to take a few weeks to heal. More creams for it now to include an anti fungal as well. Pony is getting quite over having things squeezed into her eye!

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that’s great news!