No, we won’t ask your pet to read an eye chart!
History Taking: We will, however, ask you a series of questions about your dog’s overall health and eye history, as well as his previous eye-related diagnoses, treatments, and medications. We suggest that you bring any recently used medications with you to the exam to make this easier.
If you are worried that you will not be able to relay all the details of your pet’s recent ophthalmic history, you may want to request that your veterinarian fill out a CASE SUMMARY FORM and send it ahead of your appointment. This will provide us with the pertinent information we need and is highly preferable to having all of your pet’s medical records sent!
Routine Ophthalmic Tests: Following history taking, our highly trained staff will perform two basic ophthalmic tests on your pet to begin the initial exam. These tests measure tear production and intraocular pressure (IOP). Neither test causes any significant discomfort.
- Tear test: a small strip of paper is used to absorb and measure the amount of tears produced. Increased tear production may indicate ocular irritation, while low tear production indicates a condition called “Dry Eye.”
- Tonometry: Following application of drops to “numb” the eye, the tonometer is gently touched to the surface of the eye to measure intraocular pressure (IOP). This is a test for glaucoma.
Eye Exam: After these tests are completed, the ophthalmologist will enter the room and perform a thorough ophthalmic exam. An eye exam is completely painless and is performed with the room lights dimmed, using specialized magnifying equipment and light sources.
Sedation is rarely necessary for an eye exam and is avoided when possible since it impacts test results and the exam. A muzzle may be placed on your pet at our staff’s discretion to make the exam safer for all and aid in gentle restraint.
- This includes slit-lamp biomicroscopy to look at the front portion of the eye and the external structures around it. Slit lamp biomicroscopy is performed to evaluate the eyelids, cornea and lens.
After the Exam and Follow-Up: Additional tests may be performed as needed, or planned for a later date. You and your pet’s ophthalmologist will discuss diagnosis and treatment plans. The initial exam and doctor discussion generally takes no more than 30 minutes. You will leave with medications, informative handouts, and follow-up appointments as appropriate. Our doctors are expert at providing clearly understandable explanations. Feel free to ask questions before you leave. Future re-exams are typically less time-consuming than the first exam and the pre-tests may not be repeated every time.
How can the ophthalmologist tell what your pet can see?
The examination will include an evaluation of the way the eyes, and in particular the pupils, respond to light. Then, the examination of the structures of the eye (the cornea, iris, lens, retina) determines whether they are normal. If there is cloudiness in structures that are normally clear (the cornea, anterior chamber, retina, vitreous), the ability to see through this cloudiness in order to visualize the retina, located in the very back of the eye, is a means of estimating how clearly your pet can see out.
Learn more about veterinary ophthalmologists, animal vision, and pet eye exams in this video produced by the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (ACVO) by clicking here.
How well do dogs and cats see?