/ Following Up /
Things didn’t look good at the first recheck exam. There was still a great deal of
blood in the eye, and it was impossible to know if there was any vision remaining.
The cornea had started to remodel, and healthy new blood vessels were working their way toward the injury, but there was a tremendous amount of swelling
between the layers of the cornea, and the eye looked blue in the places where it
wasn’t bright red.
The next recheck was similarly awful, and Sarah was tearful as she clutched
her horse’s halter. The edges of the lacerated cornea had begun to look rounded, and the very bottom layer of the injured section was still not taking up any
fluorescein dye, indicating that it was the final stronghold between the contents
of the eyeball and the outside world.
This deep hole needed to start filling in soon, and it was just so big. I wished
again that surgery had been an option.
Things progressed very slowly. I’d been giving Tennessee serum treatments
spun from his own blood, hoping to fill in that awful hole in the cornea, and I
finally stitched his eyelid shut for a few weeks, terrified that he’d hit the eye on
something and rupture that last thin membrane holding everything together.
/ Slow Steps /
Sarah called a few weeks later, worried that the eye seemed to be draining more. I
hurried over and snipped the sutures apart and gently opened the lids.
For the first time, the damaged tissue in the bottom of the awful hole took up
the special test dye, indicating that new tissue was starting to fill in. The cornea
was a mass of blood vessels, but the edema had decreased, and best of all, I could
now see the iris.
I waved a light and we both cheered when the iris contracted, then dilated
normally. Best of all, when I waved a hand towards Tennessee’s eye, he blinked, and
flinched away. Tennessee could see!
On the next exam, things looked even better. The huge hole was almost a
third smaller, and the remainder of the corneal flap had contracted down and was
A boarder walked by and looked horrified at the sight of the eye. She looked at
me disbelievingly when I explained how well it was doing.
Tennessee continued to improve and the day came, almost 10 weeks later,
when I could remove the tube that had delivered his medications for so long. He
was still getting some treatments every day, but Sarah could do those on her own.
There was a large mass of pink tissue where the injury had been, but everything
looked good, and I cleared him to return to work.
/ Back to Business /
Today Tennessee and Sarah have won a number of important shows. His eye will
always have a large scar, but his vision is excellent, and he’s become a very talented athlete. I sent my ophthalmologist friend a compilation of photos of the eye as
it healed, and he marveled at the progress.
“I can’t believe it healed without surgery,” he said. “Well, vis medicatrix naturae,
the healing power of nature. You can’t just underestimate it.”
Undoubtedly. Vis medicatrix naturae, helped by a lavage kit, five eye medi-
cations, serum, two oral medications, a special mask and a devoted owner who
diligently did all of the treatments for 10 weeks.
COURTNEY S. DIEHL, DVM is an equine veterinarian in Steamboat Springs, Colo.
For your BEST
Barn Helper, too!
FOR DOGS OF ALL SIZES
;Source: Among retail brands. Survey conducted in
February 2016 of small animal veterinarians
who recommended oral joint health supplements.
“When I’m busy in the barn,
my dogs are there working
by my side. That’s why they
get Cosequin, too!”
horse trainer, clinician and