Intraocular pressure changes in equine athletes during endurance competitions

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Abstract

Objective

To assess intraocular pressure (IOP) in conditioned equine athletes and document changes with exercise. A secondary objective was to assess associations between IOP and heart rate, as well as with other subjective physical parameters.

Sample population

Horses were evaluated during 50 mile endurance ride competitions. Data were collected on 69 horses during five different competitions at three different locations with 59 horses ridden once, nine horses ridden in two competitions, and one horse ridden in three competitions for a total of 80 horse-ride combinations.

Procedures

Intraocular pressure was measured using a TonoVet® tonometer in both eyes of each horse prior to, at two time points during, and immediately after endurance competitions. Heart rates and subjective veterinary scores were recorded on ride cards at each time point.

Results

For horses with shorter finishing times (≤400 min), IOP decreased by at least 3.1 ± 0.9 mmHg (least square mean estimate ± SEM) from baseline to the end of endurance exercise (P < 0.007), although upward fluctuation was apparent during the ride. For horses with longer finishing times, IOP did not change significantly from baseline to the end of exercise. Responses also differed between horses awarded ‘Best Condition’ relative to other horses, whereby the latter, but not the former, showed an overall decrease in IOP by end of exercise relative to baseline (estimate decrease of 3.2 ± 0.6 mmHg; P < 0.001). There was no evidence for any association between IOP and heart rate, nor between IOP and subjective clinical scores.

Conclusions

Intraocular pressure fluctuated in horses during endurance riding competitions.

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