Equine eye implants increase infection risk

Research shows that horses who had implants placed at the time an eye is removed had seven-fold greater odds of infection.
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An implant that fills out the hollow socket after a horse’s eye is removed may provide cosmetic appeal, but a new study from the Netherlands suggests that it increases the risk of infection at the surgical site.

A black and white horse missing one eye

An implant can remove the "hollow" left by a removed eye, but increases the risk of post-operative infection.

Researchers at Utrecht University reviewed the records of 107 horses who had an eye removed, 49 of which had implants put in place during the same procedure. They found that, overall, 7.5 percent of the horses developed surgical-site infections, but those who received implants had seven-fold greater odds of infection. In all of those cases, the infection necessitated a second surgery to remove the implant.

Horses who had an eye removed because of uveitis, a too-large or too-small globe, or tumors inside the eye had a lower risk of surgical site infection than did those who underwent the removal procedure as a result of corneal perforation or rupture, infected ulcers or tumors on the exterior of the globe. Seventeen percent of horses in the latter group who received an implant developed infection that led to its removal.

Reference: “A retrospective analysis of the risk factors for surgical site infections and long-term follow-up after transpalpebral enucleation in horses,” BMC Veterinary Research, June 2017

This article first appeared in the October 2017 issue of EQUUS (Volume #481)

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