While your general practitioner veterinarian can diagnose and treat many routine eye conditions, certain diseases and injuries require the care of a doctor who has had specialized, intensive training in veterinary ophthalmology in order to provide the very best outcome for your pet. Some of the diseases include but are not limited to cataracts, glaucoma, uveitis, and corneal ulcers.
What Is A Veterinary Ophthalmologist?
A veterinary ophthalmologist is a board-certified specialist in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions involving the eyes and associated structures. A veterinary ophthalmologist is someone who completed four years of veterinary school, at least one year of an internship, a three year residency in ophthalmology, and has passed examinations administered by the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists. A veterinary ophthalmologist will combine medical and surgical treatments in order to most effectively treat your pet's condition.
Why Does My Pet Need A Veterinary Ophthalmologist?
While your general practice veterinarian can handle many aspects of your pet's care, just as in human medicine, sometimes there is a need for the attention of a specialist. In some cases, your veterinarian may be able to simply consult with a specialist about your pet's care. In other cases, it may be necessary to actually refer you and your pet for more advanced diagnostics and treatment. Many eye diseases are time sensitive so prompt consultation or referral is often in you animal’s best interest.
Will My General Practice Veterinarian Still Be Involved?
Your veterinary ophthalmologist will work together with your general practice veterinarian as part of your pet's total veterinary health care team. Your general practice veterinarian will still oversee all aspects of your pet's care, but with the added, specialized input of a veterinary ophthalmologist. The additional input of the veterinary ophthalmologist will be called upon as needed as your veterinarian manages your pet's illness
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.
Veterinary Ophtalmologists are Veterinarian Specialists in Cat and Dog Eye Problems
Need an Eye Vet? Learn more about VCA's board certified Veterinary Ophthalmologists and how they can help treat your cat or dog's eye problems.
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 him or her to recover from or enjoy the highest quality of life while living with the condition.