Studies on corticosteroids tend to lean toward the extreme use, rather than the average use. For example, some studies look at corticosteroids for extreme and rarer cases of eczema. This makes it harder to research what long-term studies are out there on steroid use. To complicate things further, corticosteroids can be oral, topical, injected, or inhaled, and this dramatically changes the benefits and risks, and in turn the short-term and long-term effects. Speak with your doctor and pharmacist on what, if any, long-term studies out there are relevant to your own medical treatment.
CATARACTS IN THE HORSE
Cataracts are opacities of the lens and are the most frequent congenital ocular defect in foals. Horses manifest varying degrees of blindness as cataracts mature. Very small incipient lens opacities are common and not associated with blindness. As cataracts mature and become more opaque, the degree of blindness increases.
Equine Cataract Surgery
Most veterinary ophthalmologists recommend surgical removal of cataracts in foals less than 6 months of age if the foal is healthy, no uveitis or other ocular problems are present, and the foal's personality will tolerate aggressive topical medical therapy.
Phacoemulsification cataract surgery is the most useful technique for the horse. This extracapsular procedure through a corneal incision utilizes a piezoelectric handpiece with an ultrasonic titanium needle in a silicone sleeve to fragment and emulsify the lens nucleus and cortex following removal of the anterior capsule. The emulsified lens is then aspirated from the eye while intraocular pressure is maintained. The thin posterior capsule is left intact. There is little inflammation postoperatively in most horses following phacoemulsification cataract surgery and a quicker return to normal activity with phacoemulsification than other surgical techniques.
The results of cataract surgery in foals by experienced veterinary ophthalmologists are generally very good, but the cataract surgical results in adult horses with cataracts caused by ERU are often poor. The problem is that new blood vessels form on the iris and anterior lens capsule in the eyes with ERU and they can bleed during the surgeries. The surgeon often cannot stop the hemorrhage and severe hyphema results.
DISEASES OF THE UVEAL TRACT
Equine recurrent uveitis (Periodic ophthalmia, moon blindness, iridocyclitis)
It is important to use the correct amount of topical steroid for your eczema, as instructed by your healthcare professional. Topical steroids should be applied with clean hands so that the skin just glistens. It can sometimes be difficult to judge how much steroid to use and there are guidelines on the amount required to cover body areas that are affected by eczema. These are based on the Finger Tip Unit (FTU), and explained in detail in our fact sheet which you can download as a pdf from the related documents to the right of this page.