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Eyes

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12/28/01

Blindness

Blindness can be a symptom of any of the these disorders: Pregnancy toxemia; helminth or their larvae in CNS; deficiency of copper or Vitamin A; poisoning by bracken fern, lead, arsenic, salt, rodenticides, selenium, St. Johnswort; botulism; Haemophilus somnus; shipping fever; meningitis; optic nerve damage; Listeriosis; mycotic pneumonia; snake bit; elaeophorosis. Each of these cannot be covered here; the owner should be observant of other symptoms and events of recent history that would help in the diagnosis.

If a baby goat has severe diarrhea and/or a high temperature, it is not unusual for this to be accompanied by temporary blindness. Once the primary illness has been resolved, eyesight usually returns to normal.

Trauma

Injuries to the eye are fairly common in goats of all ages. This may first come to your attention due to a watery eye or redness. Or the lids will be closed.

If there has been a bruise, you will probably notice a red-purple discoloration where the iris meets the white. There isn't much you can do for this. An ice pack may help. Eye ointment is always helpful to prevent infection and is mildly soothing. It usually takes a couple of weeks for the redness to go away.

3rdeyeA very common eye problem in goats is hay awns (seeds or "stickers"). These frequently lodge behind the "third eyelid" (nictitating membrane). The lids will be closed and there will be a lot of tearing. When you open the lids you will probably see some redness and a lot of water. The sticker usually escapes casual inspection. There is probably some cloudiness, which indicates surface irritation. You have to forcefully examine all parts of the eye. The accompanying photo shows how to pop out the third eyelid so that you can see behind it where the sticker is usually located. You can use tweezers to pull out the hay seed, but I prefer using my fingers to avoid further injury. A cotton swab can also be helpful to pull one end out so you can grab it. Try to remove it slowly and firmly so that you get the pointed end which may be embedded in the tender tissues. Always check the situation after you have removed a sticker because there may be a second one awaiting more action. Always use eye ointment 2 - 4 times per day for about two days after you remove a hay seed, especially if there is clouding.

Inverted Eyelids

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Entropion is a condition where the eyelids turn in and rub against the eyeball. This is usually first noticed because of a watery and partially closed eye. It is a good idea to check for this right at delivery. If found, manually roll the lid out and give the lashes a little bit of a pull. Do this every couple of hours for a little while. If there is still a problem, then you must intervene. You can seek help from your veterinarian who may do one of several procedures.

If you want to correct the problem yourself, you can inject with a fine needle a small amount of Pen G, sterile saline, or air into two or three locations of the offending lid (1/2 cc pen G 3/16" from margin of eyelid). It takes a real steady hand and a little bit of courage. I like to use Pen G to help guard against infection, although it is a little hard to get through a fine needle. You may have to repeat the procedure once or twice, but this is not usually the case. Inject enough into each site to cause the lid to puff out a little. If the process is succesful, this will keep the lid from rolling back in.

Another option is the use of clips or staples designed for this pupose which can be optained from Pipestone. I have have no experience with them and cannot comment on their effectiveness.

Always follow up any treatment with ophthalmic ointment several times per day.

This is apparently an inherited disorder and you may not want to keep the victim for breeding purposes.

Rolled Out Eyelids

This largely congenital disorder will cause minor difficulties for the rest of the animal's life. The floppy lower lid allows for the accumulation of dust, dirt and other foriegn particles with possible subsequent inflammation and infection. The only real teatment is surgical intervention by a qualified veterinarian.

On the other hand, we have kept goats for many years which have had real floppy lids and some haven't had many problems. Occasionally, they get some dirt in the cavity and need a brief treatment with ophthalmic ointment.

Keratoconjunctivitis ("Pinkeye")

This is not anywhere as serious a problem in goats as it is in cattle. Partly, this is due to the fact that flies are nowhere as numerous on goats and there is less likelihood of infection spreading. Those affected tend to seek the shade and will have watery to purulent discharge. There may be a small ulcer on the surface of the eye, but this is rare in goats. (Be sure to check that there is not some foreign object in the eye (especially behind the "third eyelid"), which, in goats, is more common than "pinkeye.") The most common remedy is Terramycin® Eye Ointment. Most of the causative organisms are susceptible to penicillin. A couple of drops in each eye for 3 - 4 days will usually reduce the infection. You can also try LA200 injections or a drop or two in the eye. Some of the more popular eye "puffers" (NTZ Puffer is now "prohibited" in food animals) are becoming more difficult to locate, but these work well also. Many report outstanding success by taking some freshly drawn milk and using that directly in the eye. It is important to start one of these treatments at the earliest sign. You don't want the infection to get serious or to spread to other members of the herd.



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