What is a Veterinary Ophthalmologist?
A veterinary ophthalmologist is a veterinarian that is board-certified by the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (ACVO). To become board-certified and receive Diplomate status in the ACVO, the candidate must pass a series of rigorous written and practical examinations. To be eligible to take the examination, the candidate first completes the four years of veterinary school required to become a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), followed by three or four additional years of training that are required to gain the medical and surgical expertise necessary to be an ophthalmology specialist. The additional training usually includes a one-year internship in small animal medicine and surgery followed by a three-year residency in ophthalmology supervised by board-certified ophthalmologists. In addition, several publications must be prepared, reviewed, and accepted by the ACVO credential committee.

CERF (Canine Eye Registration Foundation) board-certified specialist can examine breeding dogs to show the incidence of heritable eye diseases; providing ocular exams using techniques such as electroretinography, gonioscopy and ultrasonography; procedures performed include cryosurgery, phacoemulsification for removal of cataracts, lens implantation, diode laser surgery for ocular conditions such as glaucoma and intraocular tumors.

Animals suffer from eye problems that are similar to those which affect humans. These problems include cataracts, glaucoma, dry eye, corneal ulceration, tumors of the eye, eyelid defects, inflammation of the eye and surrounding tissues, retinal degeneration, and many others. Veterinary ophthalmologists can provide animals with much of the medical and surgical eye care that is available for humans. Due to rapid advances in the knowledge, techniques, and equipment necessary to provide specialty eye care to veterinary patients, your primary care veterinarian may choose to consult a specialist for eye problems that are unusual or for those that have not responded to initial therapy. If your pet has an eye problem, referral may help. The veterinary ophthalmologist may be able to preserve or restore vision, treat a painful eye, or diagnose a troubling ophthalmic condition.

What Specialized Training Does A Veterinary Ophthalmologist Have?

Veterinary Ophthalmologists are Veterinarian Specialists in Cat and Dog Eye Problems

Just like a human ophthalmologist, veterinarians interested in ophthalmology must seek additional, intensive training to become a specialist and earn this prestigious credentialing. In veterinary medicine, specialty status is granted by the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (ACVO). A veterinarian that has received this specialty status will list the initials, 'DACVO,' after his or her DVM degree. Or, the veterinarian may indicate that he or she is a 'Diplomate' of the ACVO. The word 'Diplomate' typically means the specialist has achieved the following:
 

  • Obtained a traditional 8-year veterinary degree (four years of college plus four years of veterinary school).
  • Usually has completed a one-year internship in small animal medicine and surgery.
  • Completed an additional three-year residency in ophthalmology at a veterinary teaching hospital.
  • Completed the credentialing application process established by the ACVO, which includes publishing credits, case reports, and a resume.
  • Passed a rigorous, multi-day examination consisting of written, practical, and surgical sections.

 

After completing and passing all of the above, the veterinarian is recognized by his or her peers as a board-certified specialist in veterinary ophthalmology. As you can see, when your pet needs the specialized care of a veterinary ophthalmologist, all of the intensive training and additional education outlined above is focused on helping your pet to recover from, or enjoy the highest quality of life while living with the condition.

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