General Certification and OFA Procedure Questions


There is not a minimum age requirement. The age is completely up to the examining ophthalmologist; however, the puppy’s eyes must be open.

Only a board certified veterinary ophthalmologist (a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmology – ACVO) may perform an eye clearance examination. For a list of board certified ophthalmologists in your area, visit the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists website at www.acvo.org.

You can visit the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists website at www.acvo.org to find someone in your area.

Each ophthalmologist will have their own pricing schemes for eye certification exams. Please contact the ophthalmologist in your area for pricing.

For a new OFA Eye Certification registration, the fee is $12. For a resubmission, the fee is $8. There is no fee to register a dog with an abnormal exam result.

Currently there is no downloadable form. The ophthalmologist will have the form needed for the examination. Please be sure to take your registration paperwork with you to aid in completing the form.

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.

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.

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.


Questions About Your Order

To receive a certificate in the mail, the owner must mail in their original owner’s copy of the exam along with the registration fee for OFA ($12 for initial application, $8 for resubmissions; no charge for abnormal results). The veterinary ophthalmologist will mail in a research copy but the OFA does not match up any personal identification on those forms. The research copy is strictly used for statistical purposes.

There is a check box on the lower right hand portion of the examination form that the veterinary ophthalmologist should fill in if a microchip is scanned and verified at the time of the examination. If this check box was not marked and if there are no comments stating a chip, or tattoo number was verified at the time of the examination, the certificate and resulting OFA number will have a ‘NOPI’ suffix if no identification was present, or a ‘PI’ suffix if id was provided but not verified. Dog whose id information was provided and verified by the examining ophthalmologist will have a ‘VPI’ suffix. ONLY those dogs with verified permanent id (VPI) at the time of the exam will have their results forwarded to the AKC.

Once we receive your paperwork the average turnaround time is 5-7 business days.


Questions About CERF

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 mid-2014, CERF discontinued its services completely.

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.

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.

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.

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.

OFA eye certification numbers are valid for one year from the time of the exam.

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.

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.”

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.