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Shalako Australian Shepherds Avalon

What is a CERF Exam?  by Shelly Hollen
CERF stands for the Canine Eye Registry Foundation. A CERF examination is an eye screening examination  performed by veterinary ophthalmologists who are board certified by the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists. The opthalmologists record their observations on an official CERF form. One copy is sent to CERF for their research  and a second copy may be submitted to CERF for record keeping and certification by the breeder or owner of the dog.
An eye certification exam consists of a thorough examination of the eye from all directions. First the pupil and iris will be examined for any abnormalities, such as small holes called iris colobomas, then the pupils of the patient are dilated with eye drops called tropicamide. Once the pupil is well dilated the examiner will usually illuminate the eye with a penlight or transilluminator as he looks for large, obvious abnormalities. The eye is then examined in detail with a slit-lamp biomicroscope that will reveal any smaller abnormalities located in the cornea, lens, anterior chamber and front region of the vitreous.
The types of defects that may be noticed during this part of the exam include cataracts (opacity of the lens) , imperforate puncta (unopened tear ducts), distichia (extra eyelashes) corneal dystrophy (cholesterol development in the cornea), persistent pupillary membranes, persistent hyaloid remnants, and vitreal degeneration.
The last step uses an ophthalmoscope and a focusing lens to examine  the retina or fundus.  This part of the examination may reveal such problems as Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), Retinal Dysplasia, colobomas, choroidal hypoplasia and optic nerve hypoplasia (Collie Eye Anomaly) , and retinal detachment.
All dogs used for breeding should have annual CERF exams, especially if any recognized heritable eye disorder is known to be present in the breed. Reputable breeders will have puppies examined before being sold if the breed is known to have any early onset, heritable eye disorders.

Shelly Hollen |
Houston, Texas |
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