In the summer of 2015 Tony, one of our donkey assisted therapy donkeys, came in from the field with a damaged eye. A sharp object had evidently pierced the eye’s soft protective membrane, almost down to the retina itself. The best guess of the staff was that he had done the damage on a branch and, needless to say, the main concern was how to tackle Tony’s unique and concerning trauma.
With the combined help of vets from The Donkey Sanctuary, and locally based 608 veterinary practice, an ingenious plan was formed to help Tony on his way to a full recovery. Firstly, he was prescribed pain killers and anti-inflammatories to tackle the immediate effects of the trauma. Secondly, the vets inserted a special equine contact lens into his eye - designed to protect the soft tissue and also to aid repair. Thirdly, an ingenious technique was suggested that had the staff both hopeful and impressed; a technique known as ‘autologous serum repair’.
A blood sample was taken from Tony, which in itself is pretty routine. However, instead of taking the blood to be analysed, the sample was centrifuged (spun in a machine at a very high speed) until the serum within the blood were separated. Serum is the part of the blood that has reparative properties and this was then put back into Tony’s eye as daily eye drops - very clever!
Over many months, our dedicated vets and staff managed Tony’s condition with a combination of anti-inflammatories, contact lenses and serum drops. Tony also wore a fly mask which protected his eyes whilst still allowing him to see. As you can see from the photos, on each visit the hole in Tony’s eye was treated with a stain to see where the damage was. As the weeks passed, Tony’s eye made a remarkable recovery. Early on the staff were unsure whether Tony would keep his damaged eye, let alone his vision, so hearing about his recovery was amazing.
We are now pleased to say that Tony is off all medication and is enjoying full vision. A big thank you to our amazing vets, both at the 608 practice and at The Donkey Sanctuary, and to our staff for helping get Tony back to the happy vision he is today!