Reasons for performing the study: There are no studies on the ophthalmic health status in the Lipizzaner breed.
Objective: To perform an ophthalmological survey in a closed herd in 3 housing systems.
Materials: All horses at the Federal Stud Piber, Heldenberg and the Spanish Riding School Vienna were subjected to ophthalmological examination. Findings were documented and correlated with factors such as age, gender, location and housing situation. The interrelation of abnormalities of different regions was determined by calculating accuracy. Pedigree analysis of horses affected by cataract was performed.
Results: A total of 267 horses met the inclusion criteria of this study. Of these, 172 horses were stabled in Piber, 72 in Vienna and 23 in Heldenberg. Ophthalmological examination revealed 203 cases with ocular findings, predominantly involving the conjunctiva (44.6%), cornea (21.7%) and fundus (37.5%). In 24 (8.9%) horses a diagnosis of cataract was made. There was no interrelation between different eye diseases. Horses stabled at Piber were significantly more affected by conjunctival and fundic abnormalities. Fewer abnormalities were found in horses stabled in open boxes. Access to free stalls resulted in more cases of conjunctivitis. Pedigree analysis showed no evidence of inbreeding as a cause of cataract formation.
Conclusion and potential relevance: Acquired corneal abnormalities were over-represented in this study. This survey may serve as a basis for further research on the pathogenesis of ophthalmic diseases in Lipizzaners.