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Veterinary Eye Doctors Rally To Help Service Dogs

These 250 board-certified veterinary ophthalmologists checked service animals for everything from eye redness to early cataracts.

William Miller, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVO, examines the eyes of Bella, a crime scene investigation dog. Dr. Miller practices at Memphis Veterinary Specialists in Cordova, Tenn.

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More than 7,000 service animals received free eye exams in May as part of an American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists campaign designed to honor their public work.

Nearly 29,000 service animals have been examined over the seven years of the National Service Animal Eye Exam Event, the ACVO reported today. Nearly all the patients examined this year were dogs employed as guide, handicapped assistance, detection, military, search and rescue, or registered therapy animals, but horses and a donkey were checked as well.

More than 250 board-certified veterinary ophthalmologists participated in the event in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico, looking for everything from eye redness, squinting and cloudy corneas to retinal disease, early cataracts and other abnormalities.

“Early detection and treatment are vital to these working animals,” said Stacee Daniel, executive director of the Meridian, Idaho-based ACVO. “Our hope is that by checking their vision early and often, we will be able to help a large number of service animals better assist their human friends.”

Success was measured not only by what the ophthalmologists did or didn’t find but also by the response of the owners.

“Special thanks go out to the service animal owners who posted notes of gratitude on our Facebook page,” Daniel said. “Those kind words help our ophthalmologists and sponsors know that they made a positive impact, thus making them more likely to continue to participate in the future.”

Sponsors included Mount Laurel, N.J., drug compounder Stokes Pharmacy, medical device maker Welch Allyn Inc. of Skaneateles Falls, N.Y., and other industry partners.

Exams are provided to active working animals certified by a formal training program or organization and those enrolled in a program. Registration takes place each April at www.acvoeyeexam.org.

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