European College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists. The ECVO diploma is the only specialist qualification in veterinary ophthalmology that is officially recognised by the European Board of Veterinary Specialisation and across all of the European Union and affiliated countries. ECVO specialists can also practice in countries outside of the European Union.
An ECVO Specialist is a veterinarian who has qualified in his/her own country and then undertaken additional postrgraduate training in a residency programme in eye or ocular disease in many animal species (cats, dogs, horse, cattle, sheep, rabbits, birds, exotics…) before passing the ECVO qualifying examination. This training includes diagnosis and management of eye conditions as well as more generalised medical problems as many systemic diseases can manifest as ocular symptoms.
Your veterinary ophthalmologist therefore works closely with your veterinarian and specialists in other disciplines (example: specialist in internal medicine).
A veterinary ophthalmologist who is recognised by the ECVO can also perform eye testing or ocular examination for the detection of known and presumed hereditary eye disorders in animals selected for breeding via the European Hereditary Eye Disease Scheme.
It takes a minimum 3 years of additional training (‘a residency”) to become a Veterinary Specialist and the standards set by the ECVO are extremely demanding. A residency provides intense speciality training including handling clinical cases, participation in many courses and congresses, doing active research and lecturing.
In order to maintain European Specialist recognition and make sure he/she keeps up to date with new research and other development in the field, veterinary ophthalmologists must recertify every 5 years.
Seeing a Specialist means your pet will receive the highest level of expertise for their condition.
A board certified ophthalmologist is a veterinarian who has completed an ECVO residency programme, the requirements of the ECVO to become certified as a Specialist in veterinary ophthalmology and passed all of the parts of the final qualifying examination. Only those individuals can use the term “board certified” or ECVO Diplomate (often abbreviated Dip ECVO and also known as European Specialist in Veterinary Ophthalmology).
Your general practice veterinarian has achieved thorough general training in veterinary medicine and surgery and is responsible for the primary care of your pet. However, ongoing advances in medical knowledge in veterinary science mean it is not possible for a general veterinarian to be an expert in every field. This is similar to human medicine: for example, your general practitioner will refer you to an ophthalmologist for cataract surgery.
There are times when your pet's problem is best dealt with by a Specialist who has many years of training and experience in a particular area. Your primary care veterinarian may offer referral to a veterinary specialist to provide the best care for your pet. You may also request to your primary care veterinarian to be referred to a specialist.
ECVO diplomates work closely with your veterinarian and specialists in other disciplines in order to achieve the highest quality of eye care for your pet.
ECVO diplomates are trained to treat many animal species (cats, dogs, horse, cattle, sheep, rabbits, birds, exotics…). Because eye conditions may affect your pet’s vision long-term or cause pain if not treated promptly, early consultation with a veterinary ophthalmologist is often indicated. In several occasions, eye surgery may be indicated and most often requires specialized equipment and expertise, necessitating the intervention of a veterinary ophthalmologist.
Everyone has the right to a second opinion.
If you would like to see a Specialist then all you need to do is to ask your primary care veterinarian to refer you or help you make an appointment. This is the most common way of seeing an ECVO specialist.
Generally, your primary care veterinarian will help you choose a specialist and contact the Specialist to provide a copy of your animal’s medical record.
Alternatively,you may also choose/contact an ECVO Specialist yourself via the contact details on the ECVO website.
A list of current ECVO Specialists is available on the ECVO website (Find a certified Examiner here). You may search under the “Country” you are interested in.
The cost of an appointment with an ECVO Specialist is likely to be higher than one with your primary care veterinarian and will vary depending on where you live and the general costs of veterinary care in your country.
Normally the initial consultation with a Specialist will be longer than with primary care veterinarian. The Specialist will talk to you about your pet’s eye condition and all the diagnostic and treatment options available.
The Specialist will be able to provide you with an estimate of initial costs before your appointment. If you have pet insurance, you should clarify the details of your cover before your appointment.
ECVO diplomates can provide ocular examination for the detection of known and presumed hereditary eye disorders in animals selected for breeding via the European Hereditary Eye Disease Scheme. The scheme aims to harmonise procedures for the evaluation of animals for hereditary eye diseases across different European countries. This is to help breeders in detecting animals with inherited eye disorders.
A list of current ECVO Specialists is available on the website (Find a certified Examiner here). You may search under the “Country” you are interested in. You can also contact your local kennel club if available for further advice.
The ECVO (European College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists) with its Committee for Hereditary Eye Diseases (HED committee) provides with this letter important information on changes in the assessment of known and presumed hereditary cataracts on the ECVO Eye Certificate:
The task of the ECVO HED committee is to identify and define known or presumed hereditary eye diseases (KP-HEDs) in the individual dog breeds and to issue guidelines for eye examinations and instructions to fill the ECVO Eye Certificate, as well as advice for breeding (see the relevant chapters of the manual at: https://www.ecvo.org/hereditary-eye-diseases/ecvo-manual.html).