Athens veterinarians to participate in national service animal eye exam event

By Cindy Rice

Athens, Ga. — The University of Georgia Veterinary Teaching Hospital will again offer free eye exam screenings during May to qualified service animals as part of the annual American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists and Stokes Pharmacy National Service Animal Eye Exam event. The Animal Eye Care Clinic, located in Five Points, is also participating in the program.

The event was created to honor service animals and their work. Service animals include guide, handicapped assistance, detection, military, search and rescue and registered therapy animals. Registration is required for service animal owners and handlers to participate and is open through April 30.

During the exams, veterinary ophthalmologists will use specialized equipment and their expertise to look for problems such as eyelid diseases, corneal problems, cataracts and retinal disease. Good eyesight is essential for many of these animals to perform their daily tasks, and it is important to catch potential problems early.

Since the program's launch in 2008, more than 30,000 service animals have had their eyes checked with 7,000 of those exams taking place in 2014.

To qualify and register for the 2015 event, service animals must be “active working animals” 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 in nature.

Owners/agents for the animal(s) must first register the animal via an online registration form by the end of April at Once registered online, the owner/agent will receive a registration number and will be allowed access to a list of participating ophthalmologists in his or her area. Then, the owner/agent may contact a specialist to schedule an appointment, which will take place during May. Dates and times may vary depending on the facility and are filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists
The American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists is an approved veterinary specialty organization of the American Board of Veterinary Specialties and is recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association. To become board certified, a candidate must successfully complete a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree, a one-year internship, a three-year ACVO approved residency and pass a series of credentials and examinations. For more information, visit

UGA Veterinary Teaching Hospital
The UGA Veterinary Teaching Hospital treats more than 24,500 small and large animals each year and offers 25-plus specialty services, including a 24-hour emergency service. It is part of the College of Veterinary Medicine, which was founded in 1946. A leader in veterinary medical education, the college is dedicated to producing the best veterinarians in the country. Taught by world-class faculty, every graduate is prepared to promote animal health and welfare, combat emerging infectious diseases, advance safe and sustainable food animal production and conduct research to enhance the lives of people and animals. For more information, visit

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