Rhett is the mascot of Park Avenue LASEK. Hershey, Dr. Chynn’s previous dog, was a certified therapy dog, and enjoyed visiting patients in the hospital! Rhett is in training to be a therapy dog, too!
Dr. Chynn has examined many dogs with eye problems (for free), and discovered that, unlike common teaching in vet schools, many dogs do have refractive errors. He performed automated refractions on 30 dogs. Most dogs had a mild refractive error that he terms “breed appropriate.”
For example, hunting dogs like pointers are typically slightly hyperopic, or farsighted–which helps them see birds far away. In contrast, most terriers are a bit myopic, or nearsighted–which would help them seeing inside a rabbit hole, for example. However, a minority of dogs have a prescription that isn’t appropriate for their intended function.
Vets are usually taught that “dogs don’t have refractive errors”. While this may have been true 100 years ago when most dogs were real working dogs, it’s certainly not true today. (Veterinary ophthalmologists know better, but less than 1% of vets subspecialize to that extent.)
The reason is that when dogs were bred primarily for a work function, if they couldn’t see well enough to perform that function, they would never reproduce, so that gene for myopia wouldn’t be passed down to the next generation (it would be “bred out).
In contrast, today the vast majority of dogs never perform actual work, and are raised to be pets. In addition, the number of dogs produced by “puppy mills” vastly outstrips the number of dogs produced by recognised breeders. Therefore, many dogs with refractive errors who don’t see perfectly are fine as pets, and so are allowed to reproduce, and the genes for myopia get passed down.
Park Avenue LASEK wants to be the first center in the world to perform laser vision correction on a nearsighted dog. No dog has ever been lasered therapeutically (dogs have been lasered for safety studies before FDA trials 30 years ago).
As part of his study of refractive errors in dogs, Dr. Chynn did an AR on Hershey, and found he had a Rx of -0.50 or mild myopia. Hershey was extraordinarily well-trained, so allowed Dr. Chynn to insert a -0.50 contact lens into his eyes, which he wore comfortably for a few hours. He was observed to see slightly better with the contact lens in, but not better enough to make refractive surgery worthwhile.
Dr. Chynn would like to find a dog who is more myopic, and then laser him for free to make him see better! The candidate dog would need to have myopia more than -1.00.
To make sure the procedure would be worthwhile, he would do another contact lens trial, and he and the owner and the vet would all need to document functional visual improvement to proceed (like fetching a stick at 50 yards when before he could only see a stick thrown out to 5 yards).
Dr. Chynn has published over 100 articles, and was Principal Investigator of the FDA trial for the first solid-state excimer laser, so is very scientific. So he would do this trial in blinded fashion, meaning an assistant would insert the lens, so the judges wouldn’t be biased, since they wouldn’t know if the dog had the lens in or out when being tested. ????
If all judges (owner, vet, eye surgeon) deemed there was a significant functional improvement of vision, then they would make the decision to proceed with laser LASEK can be performed on dogs because unlike LASIK there’s no incision being made. Therefore if the dog moves during the procedure there’s no risk of a bad flap (this is why LASEK is also safer than LASIK in humans)
The procedure would be performed under local topical anesthesia (drops) with mild sedation in conjunction with a vet.
The regular bandage contact lens and prescription medicines (mostly in drop form) employed after LASEK would be given to our doggy patient for a few days.
LASEK is also OK for dogs whereas LASIK isn’t because if the dog rubs, bumps, or scratches his eye afterwards, there’s no risk of the flap being dislodged. (This is why military special forces permit LASEK but often don’t permit LASIK.)
If you know a dog who sees well up-close but not far away, and is young (or else a more likely diagnosis is cataract) then call Park Avenue LASEK and speak to Dr. Chynn. He will examine the dog, put him in touch with a veterinary ophthalmologist, do the contact lens trial, and proceed to LASEK if indicated–all for free!
Thanks for helping us expand laser vision correction to help non-human species. After our successful dog trial, we would like to expand to cats, and other species.
Animals have given so much over the years to help with medical research–let’s all work towards giving them back something in return, so they can actually benefit therapeutically from the drugs and procedures they helped get approved that we use every day! ????