Free eye screenings work service animals offered in May

Published 11:00 am Thursday, April 6, 2023

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There are times when even the most devoted caregivers need a little TLC — even furry ones with four legs. May is National Service Animal Eye Examination Month, and Animal Vision Center of Virginia will perform free eye screenings of local service animals and working dogs for owners who schedule an appointment before April 30. 

“People with hearing, visual and mobility impairments and mental health conditions enjoy the vast benefits of having service dogs assist them with daily living,” said Dr. Heather Brookshire, a board-certified animal ophthalmologist and owner of Animal Vision Center of Virginia. “Their well-being depends on these animals, and screening eye examinations help detect early-stage ocular diseases.” 

In addition to helping people with daily living tasks, service and working dogs also help police and military units sniff out drugs, assist in search-and-rescue operations and comfort patients in therapeutic scenarios.

Supported by the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists, the free ocular exams are performed by ACVO diplomates, like Brookshire, who volunteer their time, staffing and facilities for the screenings. 

To qualify for the exam, service animals must be active working animals, certified by a formal training program or organization, or are currently enrolled in a formal training program. If service dog owners can’t spare the time for the free screenings in May, Brookshire says not to worry. 

Animal Vision Center of Virginia has practices in Chesapeake and Virginia Beach. For details about the free service animal eye screenings, call 757-749-4838 or visit