ACVO screens 7,600 service animals during free eye exam event

Since 2008, the college has provided free screenings to nearly 68,000 service and working animals

More than 7,600 service and working animals received free eye exam screenings between May 1 and 31 as part of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists’ (ACVO) 11th annual ACVO/StokesRx National Service Animal Eye Exam Event. The screenings were voluntarily conducted by 305 board-certified ophthalmologists across the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, and Spain and administered to guide, disability assistance, detection, military, search and rescue, and registered therapy animals.

“Every year, we continue to see this event expand to additional clinics around the world and reach more service animals,” said Stacee Daniel, executive director of ACVO. “It is an honor to work with such passionate and dedicated ophthalmologists and to be able to assist these hard-working service animals and their handlers for the past decade. The costs for both the service animals and their care can be very high, so to be able to obtain such an important screening examination at no cost can make a huge difference for many of the program’s recipients.”

Access to regular screenings is invaluable for service animals, as the examinations can detect the early warning signs of conditions that may lead to sight impairment.

Mark Carnes, of Colorado, has regularly participated in the event with his 5-year-old balance support dog, Woodie. During the Standard Poodle’s free screening last month, bleeding and lesions were discovered on his retinas—a condition that can lead to blindness, which would result in Woodie’s retirement as a service animal. Fortunately, early diagnosis and a treatment plan may prevent additional problems in the long-run.

“Had we not gone to ACVO’s annual screening event, I wouldn’t have known anything was wrong because he wasn’t exhibiting any other symptoms,” said Carnes. “We are now scheduled for a follow-up appointment in the coming weeks to treat Woodie’s condition before it progresses, allowing me to have a better chance of keeping him as my service dog for years to come.”

Since the program’s inception in 2008, the ACVO has provided free screenings to nearly 68,000 service and working animals, including dogs, horses, donkeys, alpacas, and cats.

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