Equine Recurrent Uveitis
Recurrent Uveitis in Horses and Ponies
aka Moonblindness, Periodic Ophthalmia, Recurrent Ophthalmia, ERU
This page touches on:
This condition is very painful and distressing for the horse. It not only threatens eyesight but also threatens to bring the horse to a state in which eye removal (enucleation) is the only option. Aetiology is unknown but we do know that direct sunlight can cause extreme pain for affected horses. It can also appear to make further attacks more likely. Various other aetiological agents have been discussed or mooted, including Leptospira, Onchocerca and Toxoplasma. There may be an autoimmune component.
In natural medicine, we have been privileged to have treated many ERU patients, over the years. As a result, we have been able to see and to analyse patterns of disease progress. In the majority of these, symptoms and signs appear either to have been well-controlled or even abolished, using an integrated natural medicine approach. We have never had to resort to surgery for such cases*.
N.B.: Based upon our experience, we cannot advise the use of steroids, NSAIDs, Cyclosporine or MSM for this condition.
Some patients require regular repetition of the holistic treatment, whenever a further attack occurs but, under this natural regimen, attacks appear to become successively less severe and less frequent, until they have ceased in most cases treated (usually by acupuncture with homeopathy in support).
Treatment options used, often combined, have been veterinary acupuncture, veterinary homeopathy, LASER, chiropractic, herbal medicine and natural feeding. Clearly, if the eye (and sight) can be saved, this is a preferable alternative to surgery to remove the eye.
Synonyms are Moonblindness, ERU, Periodic Ophthalmia, Recurrent Uveitis, Recurrent Ophthalmia.
Stop Press: In the summer of 2009, a new surgical procedure has been announced, called ‘vitrectomy'. This is the removal of the gelatinous substance that fills the eye between lens and retina. This is likely to be an extremely costly procedure. If there were no minimum-intervention option available (e.g. acupuncture), I could see why this may be a good plan for a blind horse. However, I'm not sure whether the surgery can do anything to stop the recurrent inflammation episodes and the hope is that prompt treatment with acupuncture etc. will prevent the onset of blindness in the first place.
N.B.: In my opinion, horses that suffer this disease should never be revaccinated. It is even possible that repeated vaccination may be one of the triggers for this disease, especially if a course of vaccine is restarted because of a lapsed booster. I am willing to discuss the implications of this advice.
For a fuller account of this topic, see:
A client's experience:
There follow extracts from two successive emails from a client with an Appaloosa** with this disease (first holistic treatment 13th March 2012). At the time of examination, despite steroid drugs and NSAIDs, Luke was screwing up his eyes so that examination was nearly impossible but, when the acupuncture needles were inserted, he opened his eyes wide.
The day after his first acupuncture treatment: “Thank you for coming to see Luke yesterday. I was very happy with the results of your acupuncture treatment! His eyes are still nicely open.“
The day after he started on his internal medication (homeopathic): “Luke started on his medicine straight away, last evening. I am giving him 6 drops on a tiny square of bread, twice a day. Today his eyes looked better than they have since the beginning of the year, open, alert, and much less weeping and discharge. It's really good to see him – he seems much more lively and am sure he's feeling better – and so I feel much better too!“
*Removal of the eye has become necessary in those cases that have been given repeated steroid (cortisone) suppression until having reached the stage of advanced cataract, as it appears that we cannot help with natural medicine, once pathology has become that advanced.
**Appaloosas appear to have a special susceptibility to this condition and we recommend regular eye checks for them, to try to prevent missing early signs.