Virtual Library | OFA Eye Certification Registry Exams

We are proud to provide Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) Eye Certification Registry examinations. These examinations, which can be performed only by qualified board-certified veterinary ophthalmologists, can determine potential heritable eye diseases in dogs before they are passed on to future generations. Read up on the benefits of OFA exams to veterinarians, breeders and prospective owners.

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Please call us at 757-749-4838, if you are a breeder or a health-conscious pet owner and would like to schedule an OFA Eye Certification Registry consultation or appointment.

Animal Vision Center of Virginia is proud to provide Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) Eye Certification Registry examinations. These examinations, which can be performed only by qualified board-certified veterinary ophthalmologists, can determine potential heritable eye diseases in dogs before they are passed on to future generations. As a result, these exams help to limit the amount of genetic eye disease in dogs and produce healthier canine pets.

Founded in 1966, the OFA promotes the health and welfare of companion animals through a reduction in the incidence of genetic diseases. The organization provides DNA testing and free information about companion animal genetic disease—including eye diseases—that are prevalent in certain breeds of dogs. The organization provides invaluable services to:

  • Veterinarians, so they can educate themselves and their clients about best breeding practices and recommended breed-related screening tests.
  • Breeders, for sharing information about their own dogs and researching potential breeding mates.
  • Prospective owners, for researching breeds, common health risks and potential pet parents in order to pursue the healthiest offspring possible.
  • Your companion animal is screened by a qualified veterinary professional, and the results are submitted through an application to OFA.
  • OFA assigns a certification code based on the screening results and issues a certificate to the owner.
  • All normal results are automatically stored in the OFA databases and are available on the organization’s website. The OFA recommended abnormal results are added to the database as well; owners have a choice.
  • Dogs that have undergone all screenings and are recommended by their parent breed club (and made those results publicly available) will also be assigned a Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) number. They can achieve CHIC certification if their breed club participates in this program. The CHIC number itself does not imply normal test results, only that all the required breed-specific tests were performed and the results made publicly available.

The testing methodology and the criteria for evaluating the test results for each database were independently established by veterinary scientists from their respective specialty areas. The standards used are generally accepted throughout the world.

Although there are noteworthy exceptions, most of the ocular diseases of dogs which are presumed to be hereditary have not been fully characterized. Genetic studies require examination of large numbers of related animals in order to define the mode of inheritance (recessive, dominant, etc.).

In a clinical situation, related animals are frequently not available for examination once a suspected inherited disorder is identified in an individual dog. This is compounded by the fact that many ocular conditions do not develop until later in life.

Due to the potential for disease to arise from inherited genetic defects at any age, the OFA and American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologist (ACVO) Genetics Committee recommend annual eye exams.

Until the genetic basis of an ocular disorder is fully defined in a published report, veterinary ophthalmologists rely on statistical information available from registry organizations and informed opinions and consensus from ACVO diplomates. Several companies now provide genetic testing, which greatly assists in defining the genetics of canine ocular diseases.

It is suspected that a disorder is inherited in a given breed when:

  • The frequency is greater than in other breeds
  • The frequency increases in a given breed as a whole
  • The frequency is greater in related dogs within a breed
  • It has a characteristic appearance and location
  • It has a characteristic age of onset and course of progression (predictable stages of development and time for each stage to develop)
  • It looks identical to a condition which has been proven to be inherited in another breed

Breeding advice is determined by the significance of the condition to vision and/or very strong evidence of heritability. There are two categories of advice:

  • No – Substantial evidence exists to support the heritability of the condition, or the condition represents a potential compromise of vision or other ocular function. When the breeding advice is “No,” even a minor clinical form of the entity would make this animal unsuitable for breeding.
  • Breeder Option – The condition is suspected to be inherited, but does not represent potential compromise of vision or other ocular function. When the advice is “Breeder Option,” caution is advised. In time, it may be appropriate to modify this stand to “No,” based on accumulated evidence. If, in time, it becomes apparent that there is insufficient evidence that a condition is inherited, it may be deleted from the list.

There are currently 11 ocular disorders for which there is an unequivocal recommendation against breeding in all breeds. These are conditions which frequently result in blindness and for which there is definite evidence of heritability in one or more breeds. However, these disorders will not be listed on the individual breed page for a given breed, unless they also meet the criteria described above.

  • Cataract – Breeding is not recommended for any animal demonstrating partial or complete opacity of the lens or its capsule, unless the examiner has also checked the box for “suspect not inherited” or unless specified otherwise for the particular breed.
  • Glaucoma – Breeding is not recommended, unless the examiner has also checked the box for “suspect not inherited” or unless specified otherwise for the particular breed.
  • Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) – Breeding is not recommended for any animal demonstrating keratitis consistent with KCS, unless the examiner has also checked the box for “suspect not inherited” or unless specified otherwise for the particular breed. The prudent approach is to assume KCS to be hereditary except in cases suspected to be non-genetic in origin.
  • Lens luxation or subluxation
  • Optic nerve coloboma
  • Optic nerve hypoplasia
  • Persistent hyperplastic primary vitreous (PHPV) or persistent hyperplastic tunica vasculosa lentis (PHTVL)
  • Persistent pupillary membranes – Iris to lens, iris to cornea, iris sheets.
  • Retinal atrophy – Generalized progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) – Breeding is not advised for any animal demonstrating bilaterally symmetric retinal degeneration (considered to be PRA unless proven otherwise).
  • Retinal dysplasia, geographic or detached forms
  • Retinal detachment

It is recommended the following breeds have a preliminary examination prior to initial pharmacological dilation to best facilitate identification of these disorders:

  • Dalmatian – Iris hypoplasia/sphincter dysplasia
  • Australian Shepherd – Iris coloboma
  • Miniature American Shepherd/Miniature Australian Shepherd – Iris coloboma
  • Toy Australian Shepherd – Iris coloboma
  • Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog – Iris coloboma/persistent pupillary membrane

There are many ocular conditions which are a direct result of selection for a facial conformation considered desirable by breeders. These include:

  • Entropion
  • Ectropion
  • Macroblepharon
  • Exposure keratopathy syndrome

Facial conformation with excessively prominent eyes, heavy facial fold, or eyelids which are either inverted or everted predispose animals to corneal irritation and discomfort. If left untreated, these issues can lead to loss of vision. A responsible breeding program should recognize and select away from these exaggerated facial features.