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April 29, 2010 Volume 31, No. 29

The eyes have it

Despite being red-green colorblind, the eyes of service dogs are often their greatest assets. When eye problems arise, it is not only bad for them, but also creates complications for the people they assist. Ophthalmologists from MU’s College of Veterinary Medicine will participate in the National Service Dog Eye Exam Day by giving free eye exams on May 21 and 28 to service dogs. 

They will check for eye afflictions similar to those that occur in humans, such as cataracts, glaucoma and injuries. “If we do identify an ocular condition in one of these service animals, we may be able to extend the service time of the dog by giving the owners knowledge about the disease and treatment options,” says Elizabeth Giuliano, associate professor of comparative ophthalmology. MU hosts three of the only 350 board-certified veterinary ophthalmologists worldwide, and is one of only two locations in the state of Missouri participating in exam day.  

Dogs eligible for the complimentary check-ups must be certified as guide dogs, handicapped assistance dogs, detection dogs and search-and-rescue dogs. Dogs currently enrolled in formal service-training programs through national, regional or local organizations also qualify for the free exams. Owners can register their pets at