A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

September 6, 2007

Alpaca Eye Care

Filed under: alpaca, Alpaca Care, Alpaca Health, Alpacas, camelids, General — alpacalady @ 7:45 am

As if he hasn’t got enough problems poor Homer now has developed quite a large ulcer on his eye.  This is a complication of his current battle with tick paralysis, his blink reflex is not functioning as usual and so his eyes are vulnerable to debris.  It may be something that flew through the air and into his eyes, or it could be that he poked his eye with some hay when he was eating, either way he has a good-sized ulcer on his left eye.

Alpacas and llamas are prone to eye ulcers, their large, slightly protruding beautiful eyes which give them such great vision also set them up for things catching the eye or blowing into the eye.

Eye ulcers take a long while to recover.  We get some ophthalmic antibiotic cream from our vet and apply it a couple of times to the ulcerated eye.  There are two types of ophthalmic cream used commonly by veterinarians, one with steroids the other without steroids.  We always use the one without the steroids as the steroids can cause problems in pregnancy and if we have a product on hand we prefer it to be able to be used for all herd members.

We went to our vets today to pick up some more ophthalmic cream for Homer but unfortunately it was out of stock.  Our vet had a partially used tube in his toolbox, which he let us have, and also gave us what he calls “Plan B” which is some Silvadene Cream.  Our vet says he has had good success in using Silvadene Cream on eye ulcers so we will give it a try at least until the ophthalmic cream arrives.   There is some doubt as to whether Silvadene Cream is safe to use during pregnancy or nursing so for now we will only use it on alpacas that are not pregnant or nursing.

In addition to applying cream to Homers eye we have found that eye ulcers heal better if they are kept out of bright sunlight.  We have sometimes confined an alpaca in a shaded barn to help healing of an eye ulcer, but the alpacas really do not like to be on their own or confined and we wonder if the stress of confining them is counter-productive to their healing.   These days when we have an alpaca with an eye ulcer we put a fly mask on them rather than confine them.  The fly mask helps diffuse light entering the eye and allows the alpaca to be free roaming with the rest of the herd. A more homeopathic remedy for eye issues is chamomile tea.  If you brew a weak solution of chamomile tea and then let it cool it makes a great eye wash.  Just be sure that the chamomile tea only contains chamomile as so many teas these days have something “extra” added to them for flavor.

Apart from his eye, Homer is still making a little progress in the right direction.  It will probably be a long while before he is completely back to normal, but he should be able to function reasonably well in the meantime time and we look forward to seeing him joining in the boys daily wrestling sessions in the future.



  1. I placed my alpaca with a sore eye with is friend in a small pony yard. I have just bought them on the weekend poor little mites. They had not been shorn for 3 years and their nails very long. When we put the smallest on the table the lady noticed 2 grass seeds in the corner of his right eye and its a little cloudy with ulceration I am unsure what to do will the eye naturally heal or should I put him through more stress by holding to put in eye cream. Both eyes look bright no discharge what do you think dianedavechristie@bigpond.com

    Comment by diane christie — October 19, 2011 @ 2:15 pm

    • Hi Diane and Dave, First of all thank you for bringing the alpacas into your home, it sounds as if they really need some TLC. For the alpaca who had seeds in his eye I would recommend using some antibiotic eye cream. You should be able to get some from a local vet, ask for one without steroids. Eye ulcers in alpacas take a long while to heal and are painful for the alpaca too. You will need to put the cream in the alpacas eye at least once a day and if possibly try and keep him out of direct sunlight. Keeping him out of the sunlight is not essential but the eye will heal quicker that way. We have some special alpaca fly masks we use when one of our alpacas gets an eye ulcer, you can get the masks from companies like Useful Llama Items, Quality Llama items or Stevens Llamatique. I believe some of those companies also sell the eye ointment if you cannot get it from a vet locally. As alpacas eyes protrude quite a bit they are a little prone to eye injuries, they also like to put their heads in the hay and as you have discovered can get things in their eye, so having some antibiotic eye cream on hand is a good idea anyway. Your alpacas will probably be a little wary of you to begin with but give them time and they will warm to you. Try to keep from trying to pet them (hard I know) until they start coming up to you, petting is not an alpaca sort of behavior so they don’t really understand what you are trying to do if you try and pet them. Worming would probably be a good idea and also some probiotics would be good to help them adjust to the stress of moving to a new location. Good luck with your alpacas, i hope you really enjoy them. Rosemary

      Comment by alpacalady — October 19, 2011 @ 10:36 pm

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