Two infectious irritants include chlamydia and mycoplasma. With chlamydia, infection can spread very rapidly throughout the herd, eventually affecting up to 90% of the animals in the herd. Besides the visual signs of tearing and matted eyes, chlamydia can also cause abortions in goats. The timing of the abortion will vary depending on when the initial infection occurred. A vaccine is available for sheep flocks, but not for goats at this time. Mycoplasma can also cause the same symptoms as chlamydia, but will not result in abortions. Many producers refer to eye infections as pinkeye.
Because eye infections can be very contagious, infected animals should be separated from the herd to prevent the further spread of the infection. One or both eyes can be affected. Initial signs include discharge from the eye. The area surrounding the eye may appear just wet or in some cases there will be a thick, mucous type discharge that mats the eyelids together. The infection may last a few days up to several weeks.
Environmental irritants that cause problems in eyes can include dust, seed heads, and insects. Clipping pastures is an easy way to remove irritation from seed heads on plants.
Treatment protocols often include topical treatment with tetracycline, oxytetracycline/polymyxin B, or erythromycin. A long acting tetracycline injection or addition of oxytetracycline to the feed are also possible for treatment.
With all health issues, a veterinarian should be consulted for specific treatment instructions. A veterinarian can also suggest methods to prevent various diseases from occurring and thus avoid the need for treatment.