Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia Veterinary Teaching Hospital will be one of two local veterinary clinics-and one of hundreds from across the nation-to offer free eye exam screenings to service animals during May as part of the seventh annual American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists National Service Animal Eye Exam Event.
The Animal Eye Care Clinic, located in Five Points, also is participating in the program.
Registration, open from April 1-30 at www.ACVOeyeexam.org, is required for service animal owners and handlers.
Service animals include guide, handicapped assistance, detection, military, search and rescue, and registered therapy animals.
The ACVO created this event to honor these animals and their work. This year, more than 250 board-certified veterinary ophthalmologists throughout the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico will donate their time and resources to provide free eye exam screenings to thousands of eligible service animals.
Veterinary ophthalmologists will use specialized equipment and their expertise to look for problems such as eyelid diseases, corneal problems, cataracts and retinal disease.
The goal is to catch potential problems early as good eyesight is essential for many of these animals to perform their daily tasks.
“Early detection and treatment are vital to these working animals,” said Stacee Daniel, executive director of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists. “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.”
Since the program’s launch in 2008, nearly 22,000 service animals have had their eyes examined.
The event is sponsored by American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists and others in the animal care industry.
To register for the 2014 event, animals must be “active working animals” certified by a formal training program or organization or currently enrolled in a formal training program.
To qualify for an examination, owners or agents must register each animal through an online form at www.ACVOeyeexam.org. Once registered, the owner/agent will receive a registration number and will be allowed access to a list of participating ophthalmologists in their area. They then may contact a specialist to schedule an appointment for May. Dates and times may vary depending on the facility and are filled on a first-come, first-served basis.
The American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists is an approved veterinary specialty organization of the American Board of Veterinary Specialties and is recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Its mission is “to advance the quality of veterinary medicine through certification of veterinarians who demonstrate excellence as specialists in veterinary ophthalmology.” To become board certified, a candidate must complete a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree, a one-year internship and a three-year approved residency and pass a series of credentials and examinations.
UGA Veterinary Teaching Hospital
The Veterinary Teaching Hospital at UGA treats more than 22,500 animals annually. Twenty-four-hour emergency services are offered at the hospital with no referral required. For more information, see www.vet.uga.edu/hospital.
UGA College of Veterinary Medicine
The College of Veterinary Medicine, founded in 1946 at UGA, is dedicated to training future veterinarians, conducting research related to animal and human diseases and providing veterinary services for animals and their owners. Research efforts are aimed at enhancing the quality of life for animals and people, improving the productivity of poultry and livestock and preserving a healthy interface between wildlife and people in the environment they share. The college enrolls 102 students each fall out of more than 900 who apply. For more information, see www.vet.uga.edu.