What is the Eye Scheme?
The BVA/KC/ISDS Eye Scheme offers breeders the possibility
of eye testing to screen for inherited eye disease incertain
breeds for certain known conditions. By screening for these
diseases, breeders can eliminate or reduce theincidence of
eye disease being passed on to the puppies. Not all breeds
have inherited eye disease and, forreassurance, any breeder
can have their dogs eyes examined under the Scheme, even if
the breed is not mentionedin the Eye Scheme literature.
BVA produces the Scheme's procedure notes which set out the
rules and regulations by which the Scheme operatesand all
the information needed to use the service. This includes those
breeds and conditions in which there are knownor suspected
inherited eye disease as well as the set charges and the list
of BVA appointed eye panellists who conduct the eye testing.
In general, the best age for eye testing is before a dog
has reached one year old and thereafter on an annual basis.However,
in some breeds, it is necessary to test them as young puppies
(usually between six and twelve weeks of age)and so details
of litter screening are also included.
What conditions and breeds are specified?
The eye scheme currently relates to conditions involving
the eye itself and not those involving the tear ducts, the
eyelidsor other surrounding structures. Therefore hereditary
eye conditions of the lens, retina and other internal structures
arelisted, whilst eyelid conditions such as entropion, ectropion
and distichiasis are not. These latter conditions are ofimportance,
but because of their extremely complex nature and the paucity
of scientific evidence relating to their degreeof heredity,
they are not included in the Scheme at present.
The breeds listed are those where specific hereditary eye
conditions are known or suspected. The breeds andconditions
are then divided into two different categories (Schedule A
and Schedule B) for different purposes.
What are Schedules A and B?
Schedule A lists the known inherited eye diseases in the
breeds where there is enough scientific information to showthat
the condition is inherited in that breed and often what the
mode of inheritance is. For the breeds in Schedule A acertificate
is issued with results of affected or unaffected
and these results are recorded and published by the KC.Schedule
B lists those breeds in which the conditions are, at this
stage, only suspected of being hereditary andtherefore are
The reason for having the Schedule B list (under investigation)
is to alert breeders to a potential problem and toencourage
them to have their dogs eyes examined regularly under the
Scheme. As a result, as much information canbe collated and
analysed as quickly as possible. In this way, an emerging
condition can be detected early and dealtwith properly before
it becomes more widespread. It would be wrong to put breeds
and conditions on Schedule Awithout proper evidence, as they
might be condemned wrongly of having an inherited
problem. Some suspectedproblems do not turn out to be hereditary
Who decides when a breed or condition is added to Schedules
1 or 3?
BVA appoints an Eye Panel Working Party (EPWP) which is made
up of experienced veterinary ophthalmologists. Theymeet at
least twice a year and make the final decisions on what breeds
and conditions will be included in the Scheme.Amendments to
the procedure notes come into effect twice a year on 1 January
and 1 July so that it is important tocheck each year whether
new breeds or conditions have been added. The KC and BVA notify
breeds clubs, breedersand veterinary surgeons respectively
of the changes as appropriate.
How does a breed or condition qualify for inclusion
in the Scheme?
There are a variety of ways in which information on eye conditions
is provided to allow the EPWP to evaluate thequantity and
quality of findings. For inclusion of conditions in Schedule
B (under investigation) there may have been afew cases seen
under the Scheme and presented by breeders who wanted their
dogs eyes examined, even thoughthey were not listed in the
Schedules. Sometimes cases are seen in the veterinary surgery
and often a breed club willhave gathered information on pedigrees
or problems in related dogs in the UK and in other countries.
However theinformation becomes available, if there is enough
concern that there may be an emerging inherited eye condition,
it is placed on Schedule B.
Schedule A conditions (certifiable) need scientific evidence
of the condition in a breed and so the criteria for inclusionhave
to be much stricter. The amount and reliability of information
is important and often there will need to berecognised published
data available either in this country or abroad. Because Schedule
B alerts breeders to potentialemerging conditions, these breeds
are encouraged to be seen regularly under the Scheme and in
large numbers ifpossible. This information is automatically
relayed to BVA via the certificates issued and it is collated
and analysed sothat reliable data can be gained quickly and
effectively. Sometimes breeds and/or conditions are moved
from ScheduleB to Schedule A as a consequence of the information
gathered by BVA.
How do I get my dog's eyes tested?
There is a list of BVA appointed eye panellists who can issue
certificates under the Scheme and you can make anappointment
with them directly or through your own veterinary surgeon.
Often breed clubs will arrange for a BVApanellist to attend
their organised dog shows. This allows many dogs to be examined
on one occasion and may savetime and money. You must have
your relevant KC registration documents with you at the time
of testing to qualify foran eye test under the Scheme. If
your dog is permanently identified (by microchip or tattoo)
the veterinary surgeon willwish to check and certify the number
on any certificate issued. Wherever possible, you should also
provide any previouseye certificates issued for your dog.
What should I do if I want to breed from my dog?
It will be necessary to get the latest information on the
conditions relevant for your breed. Make sure that the dog
andbitch to be mated have current eye certificates showing
them to be unaffected. As most conditions have to be certifiedeach
year, certificates should not usually be more than one year
old. The Kennel Club publish all results of ScheduleA breeds
and will be able to tell you over the telephone of any dog's
current result, providing you know that dog's KCRegistered
Name and/or Number.
Can I do any more to help the breed?
Yes. Not only should you have your dog tested annually for
the relevant Schedule A and Schedule B conditions but youcould
ask your breed club if they are doing anything else for the
breed. The KC work closely with breed clubs and oftena geneticist
or eye panellist with a particular interest in that breed
or condition may be helping a breed club privately.Obviously,
wherever possible, you should not breed from a dog that is
affected or has any suspected inherited eyedisease.
Where can I get more information?
The Scheme's procedure notes and other free leaflets can
be obtained from:BVA, 7 Mansfield Street, London W1G 9NQ Telephone
(020) 7636 6541Library information and current eye test results
for KC registered dogs can be obtained from: The Kennel Club,
1-5 Clarges Street, London W1Y 8AB Telephone 0870 606 67501/06