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BVA/KC/ISDS Eye Scheme

The Eye Scheme is run in conjunction with the British Veterinary Association (BVA)the Kennel Club (KC) and the International Sheep Dog Society (ISDS), all of whom are working together to identify inherited and non-inherited eye disease in dogs and puppies.


The tests are carried out by BVA/KC/ISDS appointed panellists who perform the clinical examinations of the dogs participating in the Eye Scheme and are qualified to a diploma level. James Rushton PhD DipECVO MRCVS is the panellist joining Kirkbourne for the eye testing clinics.

Closeup of a Black Dog

The tests detailed for each breed have been from recommendations from breed clubs who have noticed a significant enough increase in occurrences of such conditions to warrant concern, which are subsequently approved by The Kennel Club's committees.

For Dog Owners and Breeders

To encourage and ensure good and healthy breeding, act responsibly as a dog owner and breeder and to understand if there are any additional welfare needs for your dog, the BVA/KC conduct many health screening activities.

Of particular interest to the gundog and working breeds are as follows:

An A-Z for all breeds can be found below to assist in the full information package as well as for those not listed above​​​​​

For potential purchasers of a new companion

Using certain health screening schemes allows you to find out if your dog is affected by breed-specific health issues, such as eye disease or breathing problems. Regular screening can also allow you to understand more about your dog's risk of developing these issues and how this risk may change over time. Knowing in advance which diseases your dog may develop could help you to take preventative steps to support their health and potentially avoid costly vet bills.


If you're thinking of buying a puppy, the KC guide here gives clear advice about the importance information you should know before buying a puppy, as well key questions to ask to ascertain if the breeder is a responsible one:


The BVA/KC/ISDS Eye Scheme

After the DNA and hip/elbow testing schemes (as per your specific dog breed) the Eye Scheme is the next emerging area of concern for many gundog and working breeds. As stated by the BVA:


“There are many types of hereditary eye disease, both congenital (conditions that exist from birth or soon after birth) and non-congenital (conditions that develop later in life), that affect dogs. Many of these conditions can have serious effects on health and welfare, causing pain, blindness, or the need for lifelong medication, and should be taken into consideration when breeding dogs.”


The four of the most common eye diseases dogs suffer from are shown here.

The BVA/KC/International Sheep Dog Society (ISDS) Eye Scheme offers breeders the opportunity of screening for inherited eye disease by examination of the eye. Examination under the eye scheme is not restricted to the identification of inherited eye disease, but also includes general assessment of the health of the eye and adnexa (eyelids, tear ducts and other parts around the eye ball).

Health Test bubbles.png

Collectively known as the Canine Health Schemes (CHS), all canine health test requirements are detailed well on the BVA and KC websites. Specifically for what examinations are used for eye screening, the structures examined and common symptoms to look out for, the BVA have published the following:

CHS Eye examinations

The Canine Health Schemes eye examinations screen for the following diseases:

Glaucoma: There are two types of inherited glaucoma, Primary Closed Angle Glaucoma (PCAG/PACG) and Primary Open Angle Glaucoma (POAG). The examination for PCAG/PACG is called gonioscopy and if you wish to have this completed, please make the request when booking your appointment. Gonioscopy is not required for the diagnosis of POAG.


CHS offers litter screening for congenital hereditary conditions such as collie eye anomaly and multifocal retinal dysplasia, when the puppies are 5 to 12 weeks old.


DNA tests are available for some inherited diseases, and should be complementary with an annual routine physical examination with a BVA appointed Veterinary Ophthalmologist to provide a complete overview of your dog’s eye health.


Congenital/Neonatal eye conditions (inherited conditions present at birth):


  • (CEA) Collie eye anomaly

  • (MRD) Multifocal retinal dysplasia

  • (TRD) Total retinal dysplasia

  • (CHC) Congenital hereditary cataract

  • (PHPV) Persistent hyperplastic primary vitreous

  • (PLA) Pectinate ligament abnormality


Inherited conditions that develop later in life:


  • (HC) Hereditary cataract

  • (PLL) Primary lens luxation

  • (POAG) Primary open angle glaucoma

  • (PRA) Progressive retinal atrophy

  • (RPED) Retinal pigment epithelial dystrophy


Other eye conditions which may be identified during the examination include:


  • Distichiasis

  • Ectopic cilia

  • Trichiasis

  • Entropion

  • Ectropion

  • Combined entropion/ectropion

  • Corneal lipid deposition

  • Ocular Melanosis

  • Persistent pupillary membrane

  • Various lens conditions

  • Various retinal conditions 

  • Optic nerve hypoplasia

  • Multi-ocular defects



Routine eye exam

(Known as Eye Test when booking) - The BVA/KC/International Sheep Dog Society (ISDS) Eye Scheme offers breeders the opportunity of screening for inherited eye disease by examination of the eye. Examination under the eye scheme is not restricted to the identification of inherited eye disease, but also includes general assessment of the health of the eye and adnexa (eyelids, tear ducts and other parts around the eye ball).

Prior to the examination an eye drop will be given to keep the pupil wide during the examination. It  acts within 15-30 minutes and will last 6-12 hours. This allows the panellists to examine structures inside the eye (for example lens and retina).


Gonioscopy can be performed in dogs from 6 months of age onwards. In some breeds the grade has been shown to change with time. We therefore advise that gonioscopy is performed at approximately 1, 4 and 7-8 years of age.

Gonioscopy examines the eyes ability to allow fluid movement, also known as the drainage within the eye. This allows for healthy maintenance of the eyes structures as well as regulation of the pressure build up of the fluid within the eye. This is done by using a specially designed contact lens. If the drainage angle is not at its optimum level it can lead to an increase of pressure within the eye (= Glaucoma). Using a special contact lens placed on the eye the panelist can assess the drainage angle which produces the graded results. Your dog cannot feel the contact lens as a drop of a local anesthetic is placed on the on the eye prior to assessment.


For both the Eye Test and the gonioscopy, once the examination is complete, the examiner will issue a Canine Health Schemes (CHS) Eye Examination Certificate which records the inherited eye disease status relevant to the dog being examined. Both tests are recoded on the same form.


For the Eye Test the results are recorded as Clinically Unaffected (does not have the condition) or Clinically Affected (does have the condition). If actively breeding, a dog should be tested annually, however this can be delayed if there is a pause in breeding.


For the gonioscopy the results Dogs that have had a gonioscopy eye exam from July 2017 will have a grade of 0-3 published. This should be completed every 3 years for dog breeds at higher risk.

Dogs are either classified as:

  • Grade 0 (unaffected – normal angle)

  • Grade 1 (mildly affected)

  • Grade 2 (moderately affected)

  • Grade 3 (severely affected)

Publishing the Results

The names and results of dogs registered with The Kennel Club will be sent to The Kennel Club for recording on our database and will be made available:

Breeding advice based on the results

In general, the BVA/KC recommended that you should not breed from dogs affected by known inherited eye conditions, but it is accepted that other factors such as the prevalence of the condition in the breed and the breed’s genetic diversity may also come into play.

It is preferable to only breed with dogs with grade 0 or grade 1 in most breeds.

Dogs scored grade 2 (moderately affected) have a greater risk of developing and passing on the condition to offspring, in comparison to breeding dogs with grades 0 and 1.

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