Free eye screenings will be offered in May during the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists’ annual National Service Animal Eye Exam Event.
The exams are open to certified and active working animals in the United States and Canada or those enrolled in a formal training program. Among the eligible occupations are guide, handicapped assistance, detection, military, search and rescue, and therapy.
Registration for the eighth annual event, which is co-sponsored by Stokes Pharmacy of Mount Laurel, N.J., will run from April 1 to 30 at www.ACVOeyeexam.org.
Owners or handlers of eligible service animals will receive a registration number allowing them to schedule a May eye appointment with a participating veterinary ophthalmologist.
More than 7,000 animals were served in 2014 and more than 30,000 over the program’s seven years.
While dogs are most commonly examined under the program, other animals, such as horses and a donkey, were checked in 2014.
ACVO reported that the exams have rooted out eye ailments in hundreds of animals. One guide dog, Swap, was diagnosed in 2012 with pigmentary uveitis, a condition that affects the vision of golden retrievers.
“Had I not gone to the event and had Swap’s eyes checked, the condition could have become much worse, including painful inflammation,” said his owner, Jenine Stanley of Columbus, Ohio. “I also would not have known what to look for in terms of changes in his work and how his actual vision is affected.”