Many eye conditions are inherited, including cataracts, retinal degeneration and glaucoma. Reducing the incidence of inherited eye diseases is an objective of both ophthalmologists and 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; although a dog may be clear at one exam, it does not guarantee that the condition will not occur later. For this reason, 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.
Optigen is a company that has developed DNA tests for many eye conditions. This allows identification of both affected animals and genetic carriers.
The exam to screen for inherited eye diseases is 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. Once the exam is complete, you will be given a copy of the form with instructions to mail the form in to the registry organization.