HORSE owners across Hampshire are being urged to watch out for signs of a serious eye disease which can threaten an animal's vision.

A competition horse which developed keratitis has had to have the affected eye removed - despite five years of "wonderful" care by vets in the New Forest.

Owner Debbie Prowting, of East Wellow, noticed that 19-year-old Jack had developed a small patch of cloudiness in his left eye.

The 50-year-old facilities site supervisor contacted ophthalmic surgeon Kate McMorris, a director of Seadown Veterinary Services in Frost Lane, Hythe.

Debbie said: "Initially we controlled the condition with steroids and antibiotics. However, when the seasons changed, especially when autumn arrived, Jack suffered from recurring episodes.

"The eye didn't worry him, except during a flare-up.

New Forest Post:

"This year the cloudiness increased and seemed to get progressively worse. It seemed very unlikely we could continue to provide any permanent relief and Kate advised that Jack's eye should be removed.

"Jack went into surgery and was back home the following day as if nothing had happened.

"For five years Kate has 'lived' Jack's eye condition with me and helped at every stage. They have given Jack - and me - the best service they possibly can and I'll always be grateful."

Kate added: "When I first saw Jack there was only a little cloudiness in his left eye and no sign it was painful.

"Over the years it's been really frustrating because despite Debbie being a vigilant owner, and the fact that Jack was quickly medicated when necessary, it felt as if we never really got on top of the keratitis.

"The condition can often occur after something as simple as a scratch or an ulcer and flares up when the immune system is stressed.

"In the end we reached the decision that removing Jack's eye was in his best interests. He would easily adapt to a single eye and would be more comfortable."

New Forest Post:

In a message to horse owners she added: "Any unusual eye conditions need to be seen by a vet. The earlier things are diagnosed and treated the better. In Jack's case, we were able to provide almost five years of 'eye' life before the need to undertake surgery."

Debbie added: "Don't mess around when your horse has a damaged eye.

"Always ring the vet for advice - don't just self diagnose and administer something. Eyes are too sensitive and precious to experiment with."