Save Roxy's Vision

After a few weeks this summer of riding my beautiful Arabian, Roxy, in the Chuckanuts, her eye became swollen and very painful. The vet concluded that she had conjunctivitis, a fairly easy infection to treat in a horse. Unfortunately, after a few days of treatment, her eye got much worse, so we sedated her and scraped the cornea. We began treating with oral antibiotics and other medications to bring down the swelling, but they didn't work, and two lesions showed up on Roxy's cornea. We sedated her again and tried scraping, but still nothing conclusive turned up. At that point, my vet said we needed to hospitalize her. It had been a nightmarish two weeks, so this felt like a step closer to a diagnosis and cure. Roxy spent a week in the hospital at Pilchuck, with an IV directly into her eye (called a subpalperbral lavage system) administering antibiotics and anti-fungals. I was allowed to visit her and hand graze her every day in between exams and treatments. The vets there were also stumped, so they called in Dr. Sullivan, the large animal eye specialist, who works with the zoos up and down the west coast.

He was amazing; the man scraped Roxy's cornea (an Arab, don't forget) three times with a surgical blade without sedating her...amazing. He finally decided that she has Eosinophilic Keratitis. This is a disease of the conjunctiva and cornea, and the cause is unknown. Unfortunately, it takes three to five months to resolve with treatment, which is putting an anti-biotic to prevent an infection and a steroid to fight the disease through the subpalpebral lavage system. She is home now. Keeping the system clean, etc., is fussy business (and keeping it on/in the horse is also tricky). And trying to do all this on an un-sedated Arabian is also challenging. We have to watch for a secondary infection (this is not an infection now; it is an autoimmune response of white blood cells) all feels very overwhelming. I am just praying for a good outcome and that healing happens easily and elegantly. The hope is that Roxy will not need surgery or lose her vision. She is the most darling horse, who loves galloping through the woods; I can't imagine her with only one eye, so I am doing everything I can to help her heal. The vets have been angels, but it is very expensive.

I will update you on her progress and try to get photos of Roxy in her eye protection mask and the SPL system (you can read about it on my Facebook page) through which I administer the medicines twice a day.

It is difficult to ask for financial help,but if you are able to donate anything, Roxy and I would sincerely appreciate it; your prayers and good wishes are equally appreciated.

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Gail Smedley 
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