Ophthalmologists in the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine are offering free eye examinations to qualified working or service dogs throughout May as part of the 7th Annual National Service Dog Eye Exam program organized by the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists.
Dogs eligible for the free exam are those active working or service animals that have graduated or been certified by a formal training program or organization. Dogs currently enrolled in a formal training program are also eligible. This includes dogs involved in drug detection, police work, search and rescue activity as well as dogs providing therapy, guide, hearing, and other disability assistance. Service animals other than dogs may also be examined.
“Early detection is vital and this program is an opportunity to ensure the animal’s eye health by allowing us to diagnose an ocular concern before it becomes a major issue,” says Brian Gilger, a professor of ophthalmology in the NC State Veterinary Health Complex.
During the examination, the ophthalmologist will examine the eyes to determine if there are any abnormalities. Some abnormalities might need to be treated to prevent or delay progression of an eye disease such as retinal disease, cataracts, or glaucoma. The exam requires no sedation, requires minimal restraint, is non-painful, non-stressful, and usually takes 10-25 minutes. Among the conditions being checked are redness, squinting, cloudy corneas, retinal disease, early cataracts, and other abnormalities.
The program is organized by the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists and animal health company Merial. More than 22,700 service animals have received these free screening exams since the program began in 2008.
NOTE: Registration for the 2014 program has ended. Visit the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists to learn about how to register for the event in 2015. For more information, call the Ophthalmology Service at the NC State Veterinary Health Complex 919.513.6659.