PHILIP has been on Douglas Council’s books for eight years as a ‘trammer’.
Last year tramways superintendent Mike Crellin noticed the horse’s right eye was watering and causing discomfort, and alerted vet Raymond Cox.
Samples of abnormal tissue were taken by Mr Cox for laboratory analysis, which confirmed a cancerous growth affecting Philip’s third eyelid.
Mr Cox explained: ‘In a normal horse, each eye has three eyelids – upper, lower and an additional third eyelid which protects the eye and helps distribute tears.’
To prevent the tumour spreading, surgical removal of the entire eyelid was considered the most effective treatment option. The hour-long procedure, conducted in September 2010 at the tramway stables, was carried out by veterinary ophthalmologist Terry Kinvig.
Mr Kinvig said: ‘It’s not a question of the animal maybe losing an eye; this type of cancer is potentially fatal as it will spread throughout an animal’s entire system unless picked up quickly and treated.
‘Usually you would expect to see only a handful of these cases, which mostly affect horses, cattle and cats, in an entire career. However during the past 12 months in the Isle of Man Ray and I have seen and successfully treated three horses for tumours affecting the third eyelid.
‘Philip recovered well from the operation.
‘In some cases chemotherapy is required in addition to surgery, but samples taken several months later confirmed that no tumour cells were identified from the surgical site.’
Mr Kinvig said the tumour may have developed following exposure to high levels of UV light (sunlight) in a structure (the third eyelid) that lacks natural protective pigmentation.
Mr Crellin added: ‘Following the operation Philip was regularly monitored by Terry and Ray through the winter then returned to regular duties as soon as this year’s horse tram service began in May.’
Mr Cox said: ‘It’s been nine months since Philip’s operation and he is back on duty. He’s not out of the woods yet, but so far, so good.
‘Watch out for him on the promenade this summer.’
This year is the 135th year of the horse tram service, which runs daily until September 18.