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The new OFA Eye Certification Registry

Frequently Asked Questions

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

The OFA and CERF have always had a collaborative working relationship.  However, we are two distinct organizations.  The OFA cannot speak for CERF.  The American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (ACVO) has designated the OFA's Eye Certification Registry as their endorsed registry as of November 1, 2012.  ACVO diplomates (veterinary ophthalmologists) will be receiving OFA eye examination forms in mid-October, and the ACVO is encouraging their use and registration of results with the OFA going forward.

How will this transition affect those breeds including 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 is to register with CERF or the OFA.  The exam protocol and the resulting interpretation and classifications are the same.  Prior to the transition date, all CHIC requirements that currently include CERF eye exams will automatically be updated.  The new criteria will read, "Eye examination by an ACVO Ophthalmologist with the results registered with either the OFA or CERF".  Going forward, both OFA and CERF registrations will 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.

Is my ophthalmologist aware of the transition?

The ACVO Board of Regents communicated formally with all active diplomates in early August.  The OFA has also communicated with all active diplomates regarding the implementation.  Additionally, the new program will be formally rolled out at the Annual ACVO Meeting in October.

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 continue to generate certification numbers, and these will be forwarded to the AKC and displayed on the OFA website.

Since there are no significant differences in registering results with the OFA or CERF, what are the benefits of one over the other?

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 will be sharing a negotiated percentage of all eye registrations with 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 will support all of these efforts and will maximize the value of data in a single central database.

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

OFA eye certification numbers will also be 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 transition?

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.  However, so the owner's intent is clear, the OFA will require a signed note from the owner or authorized agent indicating they would like the exam results entered into the OFA Eye Certification Registry, and accompanying payment must be made to the OFA.  If a submission includes a check payable to CERF, the application will be returned.

How will OFA assign eye certification numbers and how will they differ from CERF?

The OFA will assign eye certification numbers for dogs found free of observable inherited eye disease.  Dogs with observable, but passing conditions (currently 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 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 will be 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.  There is no reason to believe that these will be discontinued.