The Eye Scheme
The British Veterinary Association (BVA), Kennel Club (KC), and the International Sheep Dog Society (ISDS) all work together to provide a pre breeding screening programme for hereditary eye diseases in dogs.
The BVA/KC/ISDS eye testing scheme is a way of identifying both inherited and non inherited ocular conditions in dogs. Most dogs presented at the clinic for eye testing are pedigree dogs with known inherited diseases of the eye (see schedule A & B below), but all breeds of dogs including cross bred dogs can be examined under the scheme (e.g Labradoodle = Labrador X Poodle – both breeds are on schedule A & B for hereditary eye diseases, so would need to be screened for both breeds). This reassures responsible breeders that the dogs they are using for breeding have healthy eyes, as many of the conditions are sight threatening.
There is a list of BVA appointed eye panellists who can issue certificates under the Scheme, we have 3 panellists at EVC – Christine Heinrich, John Mould and Rachael Grundon. We can carry out the eye testing at our clinic in Leominster on most days and at all of our outclinics. You can telephone us directly for an appointment for this – no referral is needed.
Schedules A & B
Schedule A – This is a list of the known inherited eye diseases in the breeds where there is enough scientific information to show that the condition is inherited in the breed and often what the mode of inheritance is. For the breeds in Schedule A the Certificate of Eye Examination is issued with results for each inherited condition of ‘clinically affected’ or ‘clinically unaffected’ and these results are recorded and published by the Kennel Club.
Schedule B – This lists those breeds in which the conditions are, at this stage, only suspected of being inherited and therefore are listed as ‘under investigation’. The reason for having the ‘under investigation’ Schedule B list is to alert breeders and panellists to potential problems and enable information to be collated and analysed quickly. It would be wrong to put breeds and conditions on Schedule A without proper evidence, especially as some of the problems investigated do not turn out to be hereditary after all.
The ‘Standard’ Eye Test
For this test we ask you to arrive 30 minutes before your appointment. This is so we can administer dilating drops. These drops take between 20 – 30 minutes to work, and this enables the vet to see all the structures within the eye. While you are waiting one of our nurses will start completing your certificate, therefore you need to present the owners registration form as this is where we get all the information from, we will also stamp it on completion of the test (without this document we cannot issue your certificate). The test itself only takes a few minutes, and the vet will issue you the certificate, and tell you if your dog is affected (failed ☹ ) or unaffected (passed Yay!). Contrary to belief most hereditary eye diseases are not present at birth but appear in adult life, and for this reason it is recommended that breeding dogs are checked annually.
Gonioscopy – ‘The Glaucoma Test’
Glaucoma is a painful and sight threatening disease caused by high pressure within the eye. It results from reduced drainage of fluid (aqueous humour) within the eye, causing a build up of intra- ocular pressure which leads to pain and blindness if not treated in time. Gonioscopy is a screening technique used for detection of closed angled glaucoma.
Glaucoma is an inherited condition and is divided into two types open angle glaucoma and closed angle glaucoma
Closed angle – This is associated with an abnormal drainage angle also called goniodysgenesis. Goniodysgenesis is inherited in several breeds and is tested for by a technique called Gonioscopy – This involves topical anaesthetic onto the eye, and placement of a special contact lens that curves the view to enable the vet to see the drainage angle. It is advised that gonioscopy is carried out every 3 years, the first can be done in dogs of 6 months or older.
Breeds currently certified for Goniodysgenesis under the Eye Scheme are:
- Basset Hound
- Japanese Shiba Inu
- Flat Coated Retriever
- Siberian Husky
- Spaniel – American Cocker, Cocker, English Springer, Welsh Springer
- Spanish Water Dog
There are also several breeds where goniodysgenis is suspected of being inherited and are currently under investigation. These are:
- Border Collie
- Dandie Dinmont Terrier
- Great Dane
- Hungarian Vizsla
- Golden Retriever
- Welsh Terrier
Open angle – Unfortunately, gonioscopy cannot be used to detect open angle glaucoma and the examination for this condition may involve checking the intraocular pressure instead. Open angle glaucoma is caused by a genetic mutation and a DNA test is now available from The Animal Health Trust. The Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen and the Shar Pei are the only breeds currently certified for primary open angled glaucoma under the Eye Scheme. Annual testing is recommended for open angle glaucoma.
For more information please see BVA website under canine health scheme : Click Here
It is possible for litters to be tested for congenital hereditary conditions when they are 5 to 12 weeks old. The procedure is the same as for the ‘standard’ test except breeders only need to provide the KC name and number of the sire and dam (unless they are individually registered by this time). Microchipping is now a requirement prior to litter screening. See link below for breeds currently on the list for congenital inherited ocular diseases