BVA/KC Eye Screening update Q&As

Following consultation with the Eye Panel Working Party, the Kennel Club (KC) and British Veterinary Association (BVA) have announced a number of changes to the KC/BVA/International Sheepdog Society (ISDS) Eye Scheme, effective from 1st January 2020. The following questions and answers are in response to these changes.

 

1) Why is Schedule B being removed?

After assessing the format of the Scheme the Eye Panel Working Party, which includes representatives from the BVA and the Kennel Club, it was agreed that Schedule B no longer serves a reasonable purpose. We now have improved ways to more effectively monitor eye conditions in all breeds with the Canine Health Scheme annual sightings report, which has run alongside the Scheme for five years now. This provides continual surveillance of the incidence of any new and emerging conditions in any breed, which will assist breeders in making sensible breeding decisions that promote good dog health.

 

2) Should I still screen my dog for eye conditions if they have been removed from Schedule B?

Of course the Kennel Club and BVA encourage routine testing for dogs of any breed, regardless of whether they are used to breed from or not, as any abnormalities will be collated into the annual sightings report. This report will then be reviewed annually by the Eye Panel Working Party, allowing continued monitoring of the incidence of any conditions all breeds. Should there be an apparent prevalence of a particular condition this will be reviewed by the group, and potentially added to a list of inherited eye disease (previously known as Schedule A).

 

3) Will all eye test results of KC registered dogs now appear on the Health tests results finder?

Yes. Previously only results of breeds which appeared on either schedule A or B would be published in the Breed Record Supplement or on the Kennel Clubs HTRF. Now any KC registered dog presented for testing will have the results published encouraging more breeders to test their dogs prior to breeding.

 

4) How will I know if my breed is being moved onto the list of inherited eye disease (previously known as Schedule A)?

The Breed Health Coordinators of any affected breeds have been informed about the changes by the Health Department at the Kennel Club, with the request to share this update with their breed. The information has been posted in relevant health and breeding social media groups, and on the Kennel Club and BVA websites. If you are unsure, please contact the Kennel Club Health team at health@thekennelclub.org.uk

 

5) What do the panel consider before adding a breed onto the list of inherited eye disease (previously known as Schedule A)?

A number of factors are taken into consideration, these may include the number of cases that are seen by the panellists, the number of dogs of that breed that have been examined, the numerical popularity of a breed and the severity or nature of the condition. A breed will only be added if the panellists agree that the condition presents a risk to the health of that breed.

 

6) How does the sightings report work?

Whenever a BVA Panellist spots an eye condition or abnormality they send a report regarding this to a central contact within the BVA. This information is then collated into a report which is reviewed on a regular basis at a meeting of all the Eye Panel Working Party (consisting of eye panellists, the BVA and the Kennel Club), who will discuss the findings. Should the abnormality be apparent in a number of dogs, they will recommend various actions - including further research into the breed or the condition, which may also lead to the breed or its condition being added to the list of inherited eye disease (previously known as Schedule A).

 

7) Is the sightings report available online?

The sightings report is a research document and as such is not readily available outside of the Eye Panel Working Party, but should your breed have a Breed Health & Conservation Plan, these reports are included within the evidence base. You can contact your Breed Health Coordinator to request a version. The sightings report effectively acts as an early warning system and means that the specialists can fully investigate the condition and its severity and/or its relevance to a breed population over time.  

 

8) Why are test results no longer being referred to as ‘pass’ or ‘fail’, but rather ‘affected’ or ‘unaffected’?

The terms ‘affected’ and ‘unaffected’ have been in use for some time but the Kennel Club is aware that some owners consider health screening results as a straightforward ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ - however, subsequent breeding decisions are rarely that simple. All health screening provides information to breeders to enable them to make sensible breeding choices when selecting which animals to breed from. In the past, a large number of animals may have been excluded from breeding programmes for having a known heredity defect which may actually be of limited significance to the breed - indeed using the knowledge gained from screening, such an animal could contribute significantly to a breed gene pool with no risk of passing the condition on to its offspring. It’s important that breeders consider all aspects of a dog and its health, and the contribution that it could make to a breed when deciding to have a litter of puppies.

 

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