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Monday, May 23, 2016

Moon Blindness

                                 

  I LOVE the moon, with all its mystery, romance, and powerful connection to our planet. And while love may be blind, Moon Blindness is not a good thing.

  This is the oldest disease, human or animal, ever recorded. It can effect many animals, including humans. In the pyramids at Giza, there are depictions of ocular problems in cavalry horses of that time, 4,500 years ago, indicating uveitis or a disease very similar. In the time of Alexander the Great, it was believed to be associated with changes of the lunar cycles, giving it the name, moon blindness, still used today. 


   My sweet little donkey Jackson was recently diagnosed with this condition. In horses and donkeys, the medical term used is ERU. 

    Equine Recurrent Uveitis is a disease which inflames the uvea which is the membrane surrounding the eye. This covering acts as an immunological barrier to protect the sensitive tissue, inner chambers, and surfaces of the eye from pathogens carried through the blood. Inflammation disrupts this barrier leading to internal damage and even blindness.

Jackson is 22 years old, and has a history of one bout of laminits and, one terrible siege of pigeon fever, and an unknown cause of anemia requiring giving him Red Cell which helped, but boy he hated that stuff. Couldn't blame him, it smelled pretty bad. All of these conditions occurred years ago, and to my knowledge he never had any type of trauma to his eye. 

Causes vary from blunt or penetrating trauma to the eye, to corneal ulceration, and parasitic infiltration. Numerous systemic infection, whether viral or bacterial, while not the cause of the inflammation, can trigger the immune system to create antibodies which attack the eye. Leptospirosis, a disease picked up from soil usually contaminated by cows, is also a concern. 

As with laminitis, conditions for a return episode can vary from feed and seasonal change, weather conditions, and stress. One site I visited also stated that when the eye is inflamed the brain may also be effected, which makes me double sad to think Little Jack may be suffering with headaches. 

Symptoms can include membranes being red and swollen, the eye waters, the pupil constricts, and the horse holds the eye closed; it is painful and sensitive to light. The cornea (front cover of the eye) might become cloudy. Each episode further damages the eye, and can lead to blindness.
  These symptoms can also indicate other conditions or diseases, and a one time occurrences of Uveitis don't necessarily result in ERU, so always consult a Vet before initiating treatments. 

Treatments generally center around eye ointment with cortisone when first diagnosed, supplementing vitamin B2, which so far I cannot find in bulk for horses, and generally boosting the immune system. 





Rosie says, "Here's hoping my best friend Jack has a quick recovery, and we can keep it from coming back." 



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