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Many eye conditions are inherited in purebred dogs, including cataracts, retinal degeneration and glaucoma. Reducing the incidence of inherited eye diseases is a shared objective of veterinary ophthalmologists and dog breeders. Some conditions (such as retinal dysplasia) can be detected in puppies and if the condition is not present at this exam, it will not occur later in life. Other conditions may develop at a later age, so it is recommended that dogs used for breeding are examined annually.
The OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) is an organization that registers dogs found to be free of many inherited eye conditions. The orthopedic foundation for animals acts as a genetic database for inherited veterinary diseases. When we and other board-certified veterinary ophthalmologists do screening eye exams called Canine Animal Eye Registry (CAER) exams to help dog breeders make more informed breeding decisions, we submit the forms to OFA who analyzes the data to provide “information on trends in eye disease and breed susceptibility.”
The ACVO and OFA together provide useful data to breeders about “Ocular Disorders Presumed to be Inherited in Pure Bred Dogs” collected from nationwide screening eye exams through the BLUE BOOK available free of charge.
Optigen, VetGen and AHT are reputable companies that provide DNA tests for many eye conditions. This is not a component of the CAER exam, but may provide additional, useful information. These tests may allow identification of both affected animals and genetic carriers to aid further in making informed breeding decisions.
The CAER exams to screen for inherited eye diseases are quick and painless. These exams are different from the exams performed to assess an existing eye problem. When calling to schedule the appointment be sure to specify that this is the type of exam you are requesting. You will be asked to bring your dog’s registration number and to arrive 15 minutes early for the exam so that drops can be applied to dilate the pupils. While the pupils are dilating, you will fill out the animal identification information on the exam form, and we will scan to confirm microchip number if appropriate. Once the brief exam is completed, you will be given a copy of the form with instructions to mail the form in to the registry organization.