Preventing Uveitis Flare Ups

We are adopting a standardbred who has had uveitis. He is 5 years old. Is there anything we should do to help prevent flare-ups? Is there any reason he couldn’t show schooling shows? Are their any meds or supplements to help to prevent/during a flare up? You can’t even tell he has it right now.

It is unusual for a young Standardbred to have recurrent uveitis, and I wonder if he originally had some kind of eye injury that predisposed him to it. There is no evidence of a hereditary component to this condition in the Standardbred breed. There are a few strategies you can employ to protect the eye from future episodes, which in many cases is thought to result from an inappropriate immune response within the eye that damages tissue and causes pain and inflammation. I recommend that uveitis-prone horses wear a fly mask whenever they are on turnout, to prevent exposure to UV radiation, dust, and flies. This will reduce mechanical irritation and damage from the UV rays. In addition, we try to avoid stimulating the immune system, which can happen when the horse is dewormed and vaccinated. Alternatively, you can routinely check fecal samples for parasite eggs and only deworm when some are observed on the fecal float. We also try to keep the vaccination program as conservative as possible, only give 1-2 vaccines at a time, and pre treat the horse with banamine to keep any resulting ocular inflammation under control. Leptospirosis has been implicated as a cause of uveitis, so you can check his lepto titre, and if it is high, treat with an appropriate antibiotic. If he does have an episode, your vet will prescribe medications to reduce inflammation and dilate the pupil to ensure it doesn’t scar closed. There are many more aggressive treatment options for horses with severe chronic disease. Overall, I think you are absolutely fine to show this guy and with a little care and luck you may never have an issue.


Melissa McKee DVM