Whippet owners are starting to take greater advantage of the eye testing clinics held at shows and health days and are getting their stock screened for inherited eye disease. Currently this is not a serious problem in whippets but the more people who screen and thereby rule out affected dogs from their breeding programme the better it is for the breed as a whole and the more likely it is that the whippet will not fall prey to inherited eye disease.
For over 30 years the BVA has operated a hereditary eye disease screening programme in conjunction with the Kennel Club. The scheme covers 11 hereditary eye conditions. The main purpose of the scheme is to ensure that there is no evidence of hereditary eye disease in dogs used for breeding. Breeders are often advised to submit dogs for annual eye tests, since some diseases have late onset of clinical signs. Whippets have not been commonly tested for eye problems, although a recent incidence of PRA in Holland resulted in n organised testing programme there.
The BVA/KC/ISDS Eye Scheme is based on eye examination and is a means of identifying inherited and non-inherited ocular conditions in dogs. The majority of dogs presented for examination under the Eye
Scheme are pedigree dogs with known inherited diseases of the eye, but it is important to emphasise that all dogs, including Crossbreds, can be examined under the Scheme. This approach reassures breeders that the dogs they are to use for breeding have healthy eyes and the inclusive approach means that new and emerging problems are more likely to be recognised. The aim of the Eye Scheme is to reduce or eliminate the incidence of inherited eye disease.
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 an appointment with them directly or through your own veterinary surgeon. Often breed clubs will arrange for a BVA panellist to attend a specially arranged eye testing session or to examine eyes as part of an organised dog show. This arrangement allows many dogs to be examined on one occasion and may save time and money.