Researchers Study Near-, Farsightedness in Horses

horse wearing eye glasses

Not that much different from humans, at least in this way. Can you imagine trying to get a pair of glasses to stay on your favorite 4 legged friend? Or worse, putting in contacts. I can just imagine the look – “You are NOT getting near me with those things!”. ~ HfH

From: The Horse
By: Christa Lesté-Lasserre, MA

horse wearing eye glasses

Hey 4 Eyes!!!

You’re rounding the corner toward a big blue oxer, hoping your horse will clear it right out of stride. All you’re thinking is, “Jump, buddy, jump!” But all your horse is thinking is, “Is that a … jump? Or another horse? Or … Man, I wish I had some glasses!”

Alas, it’s true. According to British researchers, horses don’t always see clearly. While about two-thirds of horses have normal vision in both eyes, some horses are slightly nearsighted and others are farsighted in one or both eyes. And knowing that might lead to improved safety and performance in the competition ring, the researchers said.

“There are current concerns about fence design and the contribution that this may have in the all-too-common accidents that occur in different equestrian disciplines,” said Carol Hall, PhD, principle lecturer and reader in equitation science at Nottingham Trent University, in the UK. “Although we will not be able to remove the risks associated with horse riding, by understanding more in relation to how horse and human vision differs we may be able to reduce this risk. Currently, design is based on how things are seen by the human. We need to look at things from the horse’s point of view.”

And while that doesn’t necessarily mean horses will be sporting contact lenses or Armani frames any time soon, it does mean science could help humans develop obstacles that are better adapted to equine vision. It also means vision tests could help select the young horses with good vision for a performance career.

In her study, Hall and her fellow researchers performed retinoscopies—retina evaluations—of 333 horses and ponies of varying breeds. They were looking for the “refractive state”—essentially, the way the eye focuses. They found that 68% of the horses had “perfect” vision (termed “emmetropia”) in both eyes. Among the eyes with vision issues, about half were nearsighted and half were farsighted, Hall said.

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