Eye Certification Examination

An eye certification examination is done by a veterinarian specialized in ophthalmology.

The pupils of the patient are dilated with eyedrops called tropicamide, or a tropicamide & phenylephrine combination, and once the pupil is well dilated the examiner will usually illuminate the eye with a penlight or transilluminator looking for major abnormalities. Then the eye is examined in detail with a slit-lamp biomicroscope.

This detects any abnormalites located in the cornea, anterior chamber, lens and front most portion of the vitreous. The types of abnormalities that may be noticed during this part of the exam include distichia (extra eyelashes), imperforate puncta (not opened tear ducts), corneal dystrophy (cholesterol development in the cornea), persistent pupillary membranes (embryological remnants), cataract (opacity of the lens), persistent hyaloid remnants (another embryological remnant) and vitreal degeneration.

Finally the retina or fundus is examined using an ophthalmoscope and a focusing lens that is held in the examiners hand that provides the examiner a clear view of all parts of the retina. The indirect ophthalmoscope is a device which sits on the examiners head providing optics and a light source. This part of the examination may reveal such problems as Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), Retinal Dyplasia, colobomas, choroidal hypoplasia, optic nerve hypoplasia, retinal detachment, and certain vascular abnormalities.

A CERF examination is a typical eye screening examination as described above but is only done by Veterinary Ophthalmologists who then records his or her observations on a CERF (Canine Eye Registry Foundation) form, ophthalmologists who are board certified will examine the eyes for breeding soundness. The dogs which should have eye certification examinations include all dogs used for breeding if any recognized heritable eye disorder is known to be present in the breed. Puppies should be examined before being sold if the breed is known to have any heritable eye disorder which is early onset and may be recognised at an early age.