The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals announced in early September that, as of November 1, 2012, the results from canine eye examinations can be listed with its new Eye Certification Registry, or ECR.

For decades the results of eye exams performed on dogs for a variety of diseases and disorders have been recorded with CERF, the Canine Eye Registration Foundation. CERF remains an option as a registry for exam results and will maintain its database as it has previously. The ECR will now perform precisely the same function.

Only veterinarians who are board-certified by the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists can perform examinations that will result in reports being sent to CERF or OFA. According to the ACVO, there are currently 352 of these veterinarians worldwide, with just 266 in private practice.

Now there are two registries that will record the results of canine eye exams. Photo ©

According to the OFA, the new registry is a joint project between its organization and the ACVO.

The protocol for eye exams and submitting results to one of the registries will remain the same as it was in the past for CERF, the only difference being that now owners have a choice of which registry they want to pay to record their results. Submitting normal results to either organization will initially cost $12, then $8 for all subsequent submissions. Both CERF and OFA certifications will be valid for one year from the date of the exam.

In the past, CERF sent a monthly report to OFA that included data on all dogs that had been issued a CERF eye clearance, and “based on matching registration numbers,” CERF results were then added to the database for dogs with existing OFA records. CERF will reportedly continue this practice.

CERF, a 30-year-old organization, has made one significant change to its in-house protocol since the announcement of the new registry. In the past, CERF did not record results unless they were passing, or normal, results. According to a spokesperson, CERF will now post “unpassed” results on its site, with no charge for recording this data. Owners will receive a document much like the certification for a dog that has passed its exam, except that it will not include a CERF number. Clients who wish to have unpassed results recorded for the public domain must sign a statement to that effect.

The OFA, likewise, will record all exam results in its database, and “non-passing results will be available on the OFA website if the owner authorizes disclosure,” according to the website. Dogs that have passing eye exams will be issued a number similar to the OFA numbers for hip, elbow and cardiac clearances.

Benefits for Research
As in the past, all test results from examinations by ACVO veterinarians, whether passed or unpassed, will continue to be sent to CERF to be used to compile statistical reports of eye conditions found in specific breeds of dogs. Annual reports can be purchased from CERF, and data is used to monitor prevalence of diseases. The reports also allow interested parties to observe trends and potential reductions in the occurrence of diseases.

ACVO doctors will now also submit all results to OFA. Working together, the ACVO and OFA are currently working to establish a new Clinical Database of Ophthalmic Diagnoses, and the CDOD and the ECR “will be important tools to monitor canine inherited eye conditions and reduce their incidence.”
The OFA will donate a portion of the proceeds from all eye registrations to the ACVO Vision for Animals Foundation//LINK “ACVO Vision for Animals Foundation” to, established in 2001 “to support research leading to the elimination of ocular diseases causing vision loss and suffering in animals.”

Aside from the obvious benefits that both organizations offer researchers, the addition of an eye examination database indeed makes the OFA “the most complete resource of canine health screening results in the world.” Having a wealth of health test results all in one place makes the work of breeders who want to make informed decisions much easier than it has ever been.