Updated: FAQs regarding the conversion from CERF to OFA for eye exams

From the OFA website:

Is the OFA Eye Certification Registry (ECR) replacing CERF? Is CERF going away?

The American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (ACVO) designated the OFA’s Eye Certification Registry as their endorsed registry as of November 1, 2012, and in the first 18 months the OFA has successfully processed over 32,000 applications. ACVO diplomates (veterinary ophthalmologists) receive regular quantities of the OFA eye examination forms, and the ACVO is encouraging their use and registration of results with the OFA going forward.
UPDATE – On May 28, 2014 CERF announced that they will be closing effective June 15, 2014.

Is there any effect on those breeds that include CERF as one of their CHIC requirements?

The key element of the requirement is the exam itself, not the organization registering the result. There are no differences in the eye examination protocol whether the intent was to register with CERF or the OFA. The exam protocol and the resulting interpretation and classifications are the same. All CHIC requirements that previously included CERF eye exams have been updated to read, “Eye examination by an ACVO Ophthalmologist with the results registered with either the OFA or CERF”. Both OFA and CERF registrations meet the CHIC eye exam criteria.

Will the OFA continue to display CERF results on their website?

All public domain data that CERF has previously shared with the OFA will be archived and will continue to be displayed on the OFA website.

Are there any differences between the OFA’s Eye Certification Registry and CERF?

For the average dog owner, there are no significant differences. The exam protocol, interpretation of results, and fees are all the same. Eye exam results registered with the OFA will generate OFA certification numbers, and these will be forwarded to the AKC and displayed on the OFA website.

Since there are no significant differences in the exam protocols, what are the benefits of the OFA’s eye registry?

The primary benefits of the new ACVO and OFA joint Eye Certification Registry are on the backend. The OFA has committed to more frequent and enhanced reporting of aggregate statistics regarding disease prevalence and progression by breed. Enhanced reporting will be available for ACVO diplomates and for parent breed clubs. Regularly updated aggregate statistics will be made available to the public via the OFA’s website. The OFA is also establishing a Clinical Database of Ophthalmic Diagnoses to capture data from ACVO diplomates on canine eye exams in an institutional or practice setting where the dog is presenting for reasons other than a certification exam. The inclusion of this data will greatly enhance disease monitoring. As a not-for-profit organization, the OFA donates a percentage of all eye registration fees to the ACVO Vision for Animals Foundation to support research leading to the treatment and elimination of ocular disease. Submission of eye exams to the OFA supports all of these efforts and maximizes the value of data in a single central database.

CERF exams were considered valid for one year. What about the OFA Eye Certification Registry?

OFA eye certification numbers are valid for one year from the time of the exam.
If I previously submitted an eye exam to CERF, and submit follow up exam results to the OFA, will the OFA charge the initial or resubmit fee?

In the above scenario, even though it represents an initial submission to the OFA, if a previous CERF submission on the dog is documented, the reduced resubmit fee ($8) will be applied.

How should breed clubs that incorporate specific CERF language into their Code of Ethics, Breeder Guidelines, Advertising Requirements, etc handle the OFA’s eye registry?

Neither the OFA nor the ACVO can dictate how clubs handle these types of changes, especially since the changes may be specifically governed by their club Constitution, By-Laws, or Operating Policies. However, since the eye exam is the key element, not the registry, the OFA recommends updating such language in line with the following…”eye examination for observable inherited eye disease by an ACVO diplomate (ophthalmologist) with the results registered with either the OFA or CERF.”

Can I submit a CERF exam form to the OFA’s Eye Certification Registry?

Since the exam data is the same, the OFA will accept submissions recorded on CERF exam forms. The accompanying payment must be made to the OFA. If a submission includes a check payable to CERF, the application will be returned.

How does OFA assign eye certification numbers?

The OFA assigns eye certification numbers for dogs found free of observable inherited eye disease. Dogs with observable, but passing conditions (known as Breeder Option Codes), will be issued notated OFA eye certification numbers. Dogs with observed eye diseases of significance will be reported as ineligible for eye certification numbers. The guidelines for breeder option codes and ineligibility are set by the ACVO’s Genetics Committee. The OFA eye certification numbers will follow the same format as existing OFA numbers for other disease databases. The following example illustrates the anticipated format: LR-EYE-100/24M/VPI. In this example, the first two characters indicate the breed, in this case a Labrador Retriever. EYE indicates this is an OFA eye number. 100 would indicate this is the 100th Labrador assigned an OFA eye number. These numbers are issued sequentially within breed. 24M indicates the age in months at the time of evaluation, and the sex. VPI indicates that the dog was permanently identified via microchip or tattoo and the examining ophthalmologist verified the id during the examination. Other possible suffixes would include NOPI (no permanent identification provided), or PI (permanent id provided on the application but not verified by the examining ophthalmologist). Only dogs with verified permanent identification will have their normal results automatically shared with the AKC for inclusion on their registration and pedigree documents. Breeder option codes will be noted on the OFA report and on the OFA website.

What is the OFA’s policy regarding posting of eye exam results on the OFA website?

The OFA will follow its existing policy for posting of exam results. All normal/passing results are considered public domain information and will post and display on the OFA’s website. Dogs with observable, but passing conditions (currently known as Breeder Option Codes) will have their results posted and released into the public domain, including the specific notation. There is no option to keep a passing observable breeder option code condition confidential while releasing the passing certification number. Non-passing results will only be posted and released if the owner authorizes disclosure.

Will eye exam clinics continue to be held at dog shows?

Eye exam clinics are arranged independently by the show giving club and the attending ophthalmologist. As a result of increased demand from breeders and increased accessibility to ACVO Diplomates, the number of eye clinics continues to grow.

And now you know all that I do about eye exams.

Until next time,
Good day, and good dog!

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