There are many heritable diseases in animals. The Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) was established in 1974 to create a database to track heritable eye diseases in purebred dogs. Effective November 2012, the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (ACVO) designated the OFA’s Eye Certification Registry as their endorsed registry (see http://www.offa.org/eye_ecrfaq.html) A database is maintained through registered purebred dogs examined by board certified veterinary ophthalmologists (Diplomates of the ACVO — American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists). This database helps breeders and ophthalmologists monitor eye diseases. A dog that is registered by OFA ECR has been examined by an ACVO diplomate and found to be unaffected by a major heritable eye disease. OFA ECR examinations are performed annually. The ophthalmologist fills out the OFA ECR form and gives a copy to the owner. This copy can be sent to OFA by the owner (if the dog has been found to be unaffected, as previously described) along with the registration fee to receive an OFA ECR registration number, which can be used by the owner for show purposes, breeding, and AKC pedigrees. Registration is good for one year and it must be renewed annually by examination. Many ocular diseases do not appear until later in a dog’s life, such as PRA and some forms of cataract, so annual examinations are necessary to help rule out heritable diseases. The earlier that these diseases are diagnosed, the better. Some inherited diseases, such as PRA, can be identified via DNA testing. Please visit http://optigen.com/ for more information. A nonprofit research organization in Great Britain, the Animal Health Trust identifies genetic markers for inherited diseases in animals.
Dogs at risk for developing ocular genetic diseases, and dogs affected with ocular genetic diseases, may benefit from nutritional and antioxidant support with the canine antioxidant nutraceutical, OcuGLO.
The goal of ACVO and OFA is to identify those conditions that should be selected away from when breeding. To simplify, dogs with bad hips should not be bred, and dogs with inherited cataracts and certain other eye diseases are not suitable for breeding either. Other problems result from facial conformation considered desirable by breeders. For example, breeding for prominent eyes and facial folds in dogs might lead to corneal irritation, scarring, and eventual blindness.
OFA ECR works with the ACVO genetics committee to determine ocular conditions that are identified with certain breeds.
Please contact OFA if you need more information: