Commercial amniotic membrane extract for treatment of corneal ulcers in adult horses

Equine Vet J. 2021 Nov;53(6):1268-1276. doi: 10.1111/evj.13399. Epub 2021 Jan 19.


Background: Amniotic membrane extract enhances the rate of epithelialisation after corneal ulceration in several species but has not been studied in the equine cornea.

Objectives: To evaluate the effect of amniotic membrane extract on re-epithelialisation of equine corneal ulcers compared with ulcers treated with antibiotic, antifungal and mydriatic medical therapy alone, and to evaluate equine corneal healing after experimentally induced superficial ulceration.

Study design: Masked, randomised, controlled experimental trial.

Methods: Superficial, 8 mm corneal ulcers were created bilaterally in each horse. One eye was treated with amniotic membrane extract and the opposite was control. Both eyes were treated with medical therapy. Treatment eyes received amniotic membrane extract, and control eyes received the amniotic membrane extract vehicle. Ulcers were stained with fluorescein and photographed in 12-hour increments until completely healed. Ulcer surface area was determined by analysing photographs with ImageJ. A mixed linear model was used to compare ulcer surface area and hours until healing between treatment groups. A regression model was also used to calculate corneal re-epithelialisation rate over time.

Results: Regardless of therapy, healing occurred in two phases: an initial rapid phase of 0.88 mm2 /hr (95% CI: 0.81-0.94 mm2 /hr) for approximately 48-54 hours followed by a second, slow phase of 0.07 mm2 /hr (95% CI: 0.04-0.09 mm2 /hr). Most eyes healed within 135.5 ± 48.5 hours. Treatment (amniotic membrane extract vs. control) was not significantly associated with size of ulcers over time (P = .984). Discomfort was minimal to absent in all horses.

Main limitations: Results achieved experimental studies may differ from outcomes in the clinical setting.

Conclusions: There was no significant difference in healing rate with addition of amniotic membrane extract to medical therapy for equine superficial corneal ulcers. A biphasic corneal healing process was observed, with an initial rapid phase followed by a slow phase. Further study will be needed to determine whether amniotic membrane extract will be helpful for infected or malacic equine corneal ulcers.

Keywords: amniotic membrane extract; diamond burr; horse; ulcer.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial, Veterinary

MeSH terms

  • Amnion / transplantation
  • Animals
  • Cornea
  • Corneal Ulcer* / drug therapy
  • Corneal Ulcer* / veterinary
  • Horse Diseases* / drug therapy
  • Horses
  • Plant Extracts
  • Wound Healing


  • Plant Extracts