If you glanced at eight-year-old horse Buna when we first met him, you might think that he was sleeping. He may have looked peaceful, but Buna, which means ‘coffee’, wasn’t resting. Far from it. He could barely open his eyes because they were so painful, so sore and so sensitive to light. Buna’s eyes wept constantly and were unbearably itchy, leaving Buna in excruciating pain.
Buna was on the brink of blindness.
The eye infection Buna contracted was making his desperately hard life even more challenging. Pulling a cart laden with passengers for his owner Amari’s taxi service in Bishoftu, Ethiopia, was almost impossible when Buna couldn’t even see where he was going. If he tripped or fell on the dangerous Bishoftu roads, his life could have been at risk.
For humans, vision loss can be improved through glasses, contact lenses or laser surgery. Unfortunately, the prognosis for working animals facing blindness is bleak. Dirty, dusty and hazardous working conditions cause eye injuries and infection, which can quickly develop into devastating disease if left untreated. This can lead to terrible suffering and blindness for animals like Buna, and mean that owners and their families struggle to survive.