Urgent update: As of Sept. 8, 2021, Please call before bringing animals or referring any cases to the hospital. We are extremely short staffed at this time, particularly in the ER, ICU and Internal Medicine.

Equine Medical Services: Ophthalmology

The Equine Ophthalmology Service is a full-time clinical and emergency service at the NC State Equine and Farm Animal Veterinary Center (EFAVC) that is dedicated to providing the highest quality inpatient and outpatient care for all varieties of large animal ocular disease.

The service has treated patients from all over the country due in part to the extremely competitive Ophthalmology Clinical Research Laboratory which has continuously developed new and innovative therapeutic technologies for the past 20 years.

black horse

Service Specialties

The NC State program has pioneered many standing surgical ophthalmic procedures in the horse that have previously only been offered under general anesthesia. The program is internationally-recognized by fellow ophthalmologists, veterinarians and students as one of the pre-eminent institutions practicing equine ophthalmology today, particularly in regard to diagnosis and treatment of conditions including:


  • Glaucoma
  • Eyelid tumors, including ocular squamous cell carcinoma and periocular sarcoid
  • Cyclosporine Implants

Equine Ophthalmology Service Overview With Dr. Brian Gilger

Appointments, Referrals and Resources


The Ophthalmology service receives elective cases 9:30AM-3:30PM Monday, Tuesday and Thursday by appointment. We perform elective surgery on Wednesday and Friday.

The EOS is also a significant resource to veterinarians who wish to consult on cases via phone and email. Veterinarians can directly contact us anytime at 919-513-6630 or submit a consult or referral here.

Order Cyclosporine Implants here.


After the referral has been made, owners may call us to make the appointment.
It is recommended by the ACVO and the EOS to have ophthalmic breeding soundness exams performed on horses yearly to screen for congenital ophthalmic disease as part of a responsible breeding program. We also recommend an ocular exam be performed as part of the pre-purchase process in order to enhance a potential owner’s knowledge about the animal prior to buying. Both of these exams can be performed by the EOS at the Equine and Farm Animal Veterinary Center.

It is not possible for us to provide advice about patient treatment over the phone or by email; however we will gladly schedule appointments and provide the owner with some general information about the problem.

When am I going to see a doctor?

Please note that our Interns and Residents (aka House Officers), are fully licensed doctors with the same education and credentials as a general practitioner. There will ALWAYS be a doctor in charge of and supervising all aspects of patient care at the VH. In many cases multiple specialists may consult on a patient should their expertise be required. Typically, a fourth-year student will first collect a detailed history and present this information to the doctor in charge. You will then have an opportunity to discuss things in detail with the doctor and together you and he/she will formulate a diagnostic and treatment plan.

What does it mean to be a ‘teaching hospital’?
In addition to having access to cutting edge diagnostic tools and therapeutic alternatives, the most unique aspect of our facility is that every patient is a learning opportunity for our students. Much of this teaching is done ‘behind the scenes’ as we discuss your pets’ diagnostics and care. What this means to you, the client, is that the process may take somewhat longer than it would at a private veterinarian practice. However, this also means that we have the ability to consult with multiple doctors and a variety of specialists in complex cases.

My doctor introduced him/herself as an Intern or a Resident – what does that mean?
It is important to understand that every intern or resident at the VH is a fully licensed doctor with the same education and credentials as a general practitioner. Interns and residents have chosen to pursue additional, in-depth postgraduate clinical training and were selected by us in a highly competitive international application process. We think you are in great hands!

I am finished with my visit, why do I have to wait?
One of our goals for our clients is that everyone leaves with detailed discharge instructions. We write our discharge instructions in as detailed manner as possible to help summarize the information covered during the visit and give you specific instructions as to medications, diet, activity restriction, and any other pertinent aspect of care. It may take us some additional time to write these for you; however, this can significantly ease the transition home and back to your regular veterinarian.

You are a State facility, so why are your fees so high?
The VH is a not-for-profit health care center and receives less than 2% of operating costs from the the State of North Carolina. The majority of our operating costs are paid by client fees and donations. In fact, many of the state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment options we offer are only possible because of generous gifts from our clients. Our fees are set to cover the balance of our operating costs, and we are always looking for ways to provide better service at lower cost. Total costs are comparable to those of veterinarian specialists in private practice.