Keeping an Eye on Their Vision

Throughout the month of May, veterinary ophthalmologists from The Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center (VMC) offered free sight-saving eye exams for service dogs. For a person with a disability, a service dog is more than a beloved pet. These highly skilled companions have been thoroughly trained to perform specific tasks that help their owners to navigate their surroundings with ease.

Because many service dogs are a lifeline for their owners, it is paramount they are regularly examined by a veterinarian to ensure they are in optimal health.  “For the safety of the dogs and the owners, we want to identify any conditions that may be associated with vision impairment and address them promptly when possible,” said Dr. Anne Gemensky-Metzler, professor of Veterinary Clinical Sciences at the Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine.

This was the ninth year that VMC ophthalmologists participated in the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (AVOC) and Stokes Pharmacy’s National Service Animal Eye Exam event. This philanthropic effort is generously provided to the public by the board certified Diplomates of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists who donate their time, staff and services to provide free screening ocular exams to qualified service and working animals.

During the month of May, hundreds of veterinary ophthalmologists across the U.S. and Canada offered sight assessments to thousands of service dogs. Approximately 8,000 dogs per year are seen nationally for these exams, with Ohio State hosting around 35 to 40 of them. “It is incredibly rewarding to provide these free ophthalmic exams to service dogs because the owners rely on the dogs for a wide variety of tasks, nearly all of which require good vision,” said Gemensky-Metzler.