VCA Aurora Animal Hospital


What Is A Veterinary Ophthalmologist?

A veterinary ophthalmologist is a doctor who specializes in diseases that can affect your pet's eye and vision. A veterinary ophthalmologist is also equipped to diagnose and treat diseases that affect the structures surrounding the eye, such as the eyelids, conjunctiva, and some of the bones of the skull that comprise the eye socket. A veterinary ophthalmologist will combine medical and surgical treatments in order to most effectively treat your pet's eye problem.

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.

Pet eye diseases that you may be familiar with as a result of your own visits to a human ophthalmologist include ocular allergies, conjunctivitis, cataracts, glaucoma, retinal detachments, and corneal ulcers.

Why Does My Pet Need A Veterinary Ophthalmologist?

While your general practitioner 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. If your pet has a complicated or difficult problem, your pet may need the care of a veterinary ophthalmologist. You can be assured that a veterinarian who knows when to refer you and your pet for more specialized diagnostic work or treatment is one that is caring and committed to ensuring your pet receives the highest standard of medical care for his or her problem.

While in some cases, your veterinarian may be able to simply consult with a specialist about your pet's care, in other cases it is necessary to actually refer you and your pet to the specialist for more advanced diagnostics and treatment, including surgery.

What Special Problems Does A Veterinary Ophthalmologist Treat?

Routine eye matters can typically be handled by your general practitioner veterinarian. However, the conditions listed below, frequently require the attention of a specialist:

  • Cataracts
  • Lens luxation
  • Corneal opacities including ulcers
  • Retinal detachments
  • Entropion
  • Glaucoma
  • Tumors in or around the eye and eyelid
  • Prolapsed gland of the nictitans third eyelid (cherry eye)
  • Uveitis (intra-ocular inflammation)
  • Bleeding inside the eye

Will My Regular Veterinarian Still Be Involved?

Your veterinary ophthalmologist will work together with your veterinarian as part of your pet's total veterinary health care team. Your general practitioner veterinarian will still oversee all aspects of your pet's care, but with the added, specialized input of a veterinary ophthalmologist. For example, if a veterinary ophthalmologist ultimately diagnoses diabetes in your pet as a result of an eye examination for cataracts, that information will be relayed back to your general practitioner veterinarian, who will treat your pet's diabetes. The additional input of the veterinary ophthalmologist will be called upon as needed as your veterinarian manages your pet's illness.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Specialized Training Does A Veterinary Ophthalmologist Have?
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.

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.

Services Offered in Ophthalmology

  • Eyelid and reconstructive surgery
  • Corneal transplantation
  • Laser treatment for glaucoma, iris melanoma and small retinal tears (transpupilary laser retinopexy, demarcation retinopexy)
  • Micro-incision cataract surgery by means of phacoemulsification (Alcon Infiniti Vision System) and intra-ocular lens implantation
  • Cryosurgery
  • Radiation therapy for periocular and retrobulbar tumors (Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy)
  • Orbit surgery (orbitectomy)
  • Eye removal (enucleation), evisceration surgery for glaucoma (placement of an intra-ocular implant)
  • Cosmetic "glass eye" orbital implants
  • Placement of sub-conjunctival cyclosporine implants
  • Retinal photography and videography
  • Advances nasolacrimal duct evaluation and imaging (fluoroscopy-guided)
  • CT scanning
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Electroretinography
  • Gonioscopy
  • Ocular ultrasonography
  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy
  • Advanced anesthetic monitoring
  • Micro-incision luxated lens removal

Ophthalmology Staff

  • Enry Garcia da Silva, DVM, MS, DACVO
  • Freida Koessler, Technician
  • Evelyn Contreas, Technician
  • Megan Muhlbradt, CVT

Did You Know?

Do you know why your pet's eyes seem to glow when caught in the light at night? It's because of a specialized structure called a tapetum. Most animals that are active at night have this special, additional layer underneath their retina. This reflective structure acts like a mirror, and reflects light back through your pet's retina to enhance night vision.
Do dogs see only in black and white? While we can't ask them, most veterinary ophthalmologists now believe that dogs see colors similarly to how a color blind human would perceive them: Not only in black and white, but with a limited scale of colors.

Does your cat or dog need a veterinary ophthalmologist? Talk to your VCA vet, or find a VCA board certified veterinary ophthalmologist near you.

Veterinarians in Ophthalmology


General Practice

We have over 600 animal hospitals in 41 states and 4 Canadian provinces that are staffed by more than 3,000 fully-qualified, dedicated and compassionate veterinarians, with more than 400 being board-certified specialists.

The nationwide VCA family of general practice hospitals give your pet the very best in medical care, providing a full range of general medical and surgical services as well as specialized treatments such as wellness, spay/neuter, advanced diagnostic services (MRI/CT Scan), internal medicine, oncology, ophthalmology, dermatology, cardiology, neurology, boarding, and grooming. Services may vary by location.

Our family of pet hospitals stands out by delivering the greatest resources in order provide the highest quality care available for your pets. By maintaining the highest standards of pet health care available anywhere, we emphasize prevention as well as healing. We provide continuing education programs to our doctors and staff and promote the open exchange of professional knowledge and expertise. And finally, we have established a consistent program of procedures and techniques, proven to be the most effective in keeping pets healthy.

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Emergency Care

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