Free Eye Exams for Service Animals

During the month of May 2019, BRVS will be offering free eye exams to qualified service and working animals as part of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (ACVO) and Stokes Rx National Service Animal Eye Exam Event.

Registration is open now through the end of April.

How Does It Work?

  1. Review the qualifications for the program below. Note: Not all animals will qualify, so please review these guidelines carefully before registering.
  2. Register your animal online.
  3. Make an appointment for your Free Service Animal Eye Exam.
  4. Bring the required paperwork to your appointment. See below.
    • Service and Working Animals – Owners/handlers must bring written proof of the animal’s training paperwork (currently only formally trained Service or Working Animals are accepted, self-trained Service Animals have the option to become a member of IAADP to obtain the paperwork required) along with a copy of the ACVO confirmation email (showing registration) to the appointment. If either documentation is missing, you may forfeit your examination time slot and/or may not be allowed to participate again in the future.
    • Therapy Animals – Owners/handlers must bring written proof of the current, registered certification paperwork (showing formal training and currently working) along with a copy of our program’s confirmation email (showing pre-registration) to the appointment. If either documentation is missing, you may forfeit your examination time slot and/or may not be allowed to participate again in the future.

Does my service animal qualify?

BRVS, as part of the ACVO/StokesRx National Service Animal Eye Exam Event, will provide a free screening-wellness eye exam to qualified Service and Working Animals including those providing the following services: guide, hearing assistance, drug detection, police/military, search and rescue, therapy, and those assisting people with disabilities. Registration is open annually April 1-30th.

All animals must be formally trained service, working, or trained therapy animals that are currently working and have written proof of training and/or active registration (for therapy only). Additionally, due to the IAADP’s extensive membership requirements and screening, the ACVO will permit “current, active, Partner Members” of this organization to participate in the program. Those animals currently enrolled in a formal Service or Working Animal training program may also qualify, but is based upon clinic availability. Qualification paperwork for the training and current working status of either the Service Animal or therapy animal MUST be provided to the clinic at the time of the exam, in additional to the registration number provided in the confirmation email generated by the online registration. Please note that clinics may have limited availability.

The complimentary eye exam provided through your veterinary ophthalmologist is of a screening nature and is not appropriate for animals with known eye issues.

What about puppies?

Puppies may participate in the program if they meet some general parameters:

  1. They must be at least 3 months old at the time of the exam.
  2. They must already be a part of a recognized, national or regional non-profit Service or Working Animal training organization. (Therapy puppies in training are not permitted.)
  3. This screening will not provide an OFA exam.
  4. Examination of an entire litter is usually not permitted, depending on the facility, due to limited appointment slots and the desire to ‘spread the wealth’ to numerous owners and groups.

I own a non-canine ‘assistance animal.’ May we participate?

You may still register if you have an animal other than a dog that has been formally trained as an ‘Assistance Animal’, but if the animal is not a dog or a cat, you will need to make your appointment with another clinic that serves their species (BRVS serves dogs and cats exclusively). When you call to secure your appointment, you will need to make sure this species is able to participate in the event at that location (e.g. equines [mounted patrol], etc.) Horses can be tricky because special facilities are needed to screen equines. Contact the ACVO main office for a list of participating equine service providers.

The definition of “qualified Service Animals” to be screened during this event applies only to this ACVO/StokesRX National Service Animal Eye Exam Event. ACVO is not a publicly funded organization and may define the qualification parameters for this event.


Appointment Times & Availability

Please contact our client liaisons at (720) 699-7766 to schedule your appointment with our veterinary ophthalmologist, Dr. Trevor Arnold. Service exams will be scheduled for Wednesday afternoons May 1st-May 31st. Extra days and times may be made available if demand exceeds our expectations.


What is the screening eye exam?

The complimentary eye exam is of a screening nature and is not appropriate for animals with known eye issues. It is expected that the majority of animals will be healthy and will not be in need of additional services. Should an eye problem be detected, Dr. Arnold can discuss the condition, but it may be necessary to schedule an additional appointment to treat any issues discovered.

Data collected on each animal will remain private and be utilized for internal research purposes only.

What to expect during the exam:

During the examination, Dr. Arnold will examine the eyes to determine if there are any abnormalities. The aim is to identify problems early. Some abnormalities might need to be treated to prevent or delay progression. Other sight-threatening problems such as retinal disease, cataracts, or glaucoma can be identified. The exam requires no sedation, requires minimal restraint, is non-painful, non-stressful, and usually takes 10-25 minutes.

Veterinary ophthalmologists examine a service dog's eyes.

Usually, two diagnostic instruments are used:

  1. The slit-lamp Biomicroscope is used to examine the eyelids, conjunctiva, cornea and lens for any abnormalities such as extra lashes, corneal scars or other corneal opacities, eyelid or conjunctival growths, or cataracts.
  2. The pupils may be dilated with Tropicamide to facilitate full examination of the lens, vitreous (gel behind the lens) and retina.

The examination can be done without dilation, if elected, depending on the immediate working obligations of the animal and the resources available at each clinic. If dilated, the drops take an additional 15-20 minutes to dilate the pupils. The dilating agent wears off in approximately 2 hours, and usually does not impair the dog’s ability to work.

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