Australian Canine Eye Scheme
The Australian Canine Eye Scheme (ACES) is a national assessment system for registered dog breeds that offers a reliable screening service for a range of congenital and inherited eye conditions.
Eye assessments are carried out by registered veterinary eye specialists.
The program is administered by the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) to ensure it meets national quality assurance standards and is endorsed by the Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC) as a reliable screening service, valuable to dog breeders and owners.
Why do we need a national eye scheme?
Where possible, we should try to minimise the chances of passing on painful or vision-threatening eye conditions from one generation to the next. Regular ACES certification helps breeders plan mating programs and reassure other breeders and potential owners about the soundness of their current stock.
It also provides a way for breeders of valuable pedigree puppies to have whole litters checked by a qualified eye specialist to confirm normal eye development before sale, in the event of a buyer dispute occurring later.
ACES exams screen for a range of eye diseases including those involving the eyelids, tear ducts and surrounding structures. Only conditions affecting the eyeball (cornea, iris, ciliary body, lens, vitreous, retina and optic nerve) are recorded. Examination procedures are prescribed by the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists Ophthalmology Chapter and meet international standards.
How are defects monitored?
For a given eye condition, affected breeds will be listed as either Schedule 1 or Schedule 2.
Schedule 1 includes those breeds in which there is a known tendency for inherited defects. Where defects are found, results will be sent to the ANKC to be recorded on a canine inherited diseases database.
Schedule 2 lists breeds in which a few affected cases may have been seen, but the true prevalence remains uncertain. The benefit of the Schedule 2 list is that it alerts breeders to potential problems as they arise.
How do I arrange to have my dog tested?
The AVA appoints a panel of qualified eye specialists to issue ACES certificates and maintain up-to-date contact information. Eye testing appointments may be made with the ACES panellist of your choice, either directly or through your veterinary practice.
In breeds susceptible to early onset eye disease, it is best to test all pups in the litter between 6–10 weeks of age. For most known eye conditions, the best age for the initial adult eye test is generally considered to be before they turn one.
The ACES rules and procedures sets out the regulations governing the operation of the eye scheme. Information for owners is also available and includes details on any breed in which there is a known or suspected inherited eye disease.