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Colt With Non-Visual Eye Receives Incredible Injection to Restore Vision

Filed under: Featured,Health & Training |     

By: Sacha Adorno/Penn Vet New Bolton Center

“Loveliest Colt in the World” Recovers from Eye Trauma

“I’ve been coming to New Bolton Center with my horses since I was teenager, and I’m now in my 60s. I wouldn’t go anywhere else when there’s a problem,” said Cathy Vincent, co-owner of Adandy Farm’s in Greenwood, Delaware, which has been in the Arabian horse business since 1967.

During a life spent breeding, training, and showing horses, Vincent has dealt with an equine injury or two. Most recently, her seventh-month-old colt, Total Heir, suffered blunt force trauma to his eye.

“It happened around four in the afternoon. We’re not sure exactly what caused the injury, but as soon as his caretakers saw the eye, they called our regular veterinarian. She took one look and told them to go right to New Bolton Center,” said Vincent, who owns Total Heir with Millie Chapman in Junction City, Oregon. “I was in Arizona for a show, so they put him in the trailer—his first ride ever and he went without a problem.”

Two hours later, Total Heir was in the hospital. By the time he arrived, the eye was filled with blood, and he was non-visual. “We knew we wanted to intervene with tissue plasminogen activator, also known as TPA,” explained Dr. Nicole Scherrer, Clinical Assistant Professor of Large Animal Ophthalmology. “It’s administered through an injection in the eye and acts as a clot buster. The medicine is often used in humans during the early stages of a stroke to improve their long-term prognosis.”

Artful Injection

But applying the medication isn’t as simple as immediately injecting it into the affected eye. According to Scherrer, “there’s a bit of an art as to when exactly to do the injection.” If done too soon, the procedure can cause a re-bleed because it takes away the eye’s ability to clot naturally. But waiting too long can cause permanent eye damage. To make a bit more difficult, Total Heir also had an eye ulcer needing attention.

Scherrer and her Ophthalmology team first treated the horse with anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antibiotic, and pressure reducing medications, monitoring him until he was stable enough for the procedure. “We had to watch to make sure the ulcer didn’t worsen, there was no active bleeding in the eye, and that his intraocular pressure was appropriately managed,” she explained.

After two days of medical treatment, Scherrer believed that he was ready. “We injected the solution directly into his eye, and within 12 hours the blood had cleared,” she said.

Always Elegant… and Super Sweet

Total Heir was able to go home, where he received daily medications. “My wonderful team at the stable gives him medication three times a day—it’s no small job, each dose takes 30-40 minutes to administer,” Vincent said.

Not that anyone is complaining. “Total Heir never gives us any trouble. He is always an elegant, happy boy,” said Vincent of the colt, who is back to his regular exercise routine. “He has a wonderful pedigree—his grandfather was Gitar AF, an amazing horse, and also well known to New Bolton Center!”

Scherrer seconded this. “Total Heir is one of the loveliest babies in the entire world and super easy to work with. It’s a huge credit to the barn and how well they manage their horses. We love him very much!”

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