published Monday, March 26th, 2012

Free eye exams available for service dogs

Even guide dogs need their eyes checked.

The American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists has launched an eye exam event in May for guide dogs, handicapped assistance dogs, detection dogs, search and rescue dogs and other service animals.

More than 200 board-certified veterinary ophthalmologists throughout the United States, as well as Canada and Puerto Rico, will provide free sight-saving eye exams to thousands of eligible service animals.

Registration for service animal owners and handlers is available through April 30 at www.ACVOeye exam.org.

Since the program launched in 2008, more than 10,500 service animals have been examined, according to the website.

During the ocular exam, the veterinary specialists look for abnormalities such as redness, squinting, cloudy corneas, retinal disease or early cataracts.

"Our hope is that by checking their vision, we will be able to help a large number of service animals better assist their human friends," said Stacee Daniel, executive director of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists.

To qualify, animals must be "active working animals" that were certified by a formal training program or organization or currently enrolled in a formal training program. The certifying organization could be national, regional or local.

Once registered online, the owner/agent will receive a registration number and will be allowed access to a list of participating ophthalmologists in their area and may contact a specialist to schedule an appointment during May.

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