From goats and alpacas to frogs, tortoises and snakes – it’s been eye-opening for residents at Dick White Referrals (DWR) who have been carrying out eye examinations on creatures great and small. 

Ophthalmology residents at the Linnaeus-owned referral centre, in Cambridgeshire, have been getting up close and personal with a range of species as part of their three-year residency training programme en route to becoming recognised veterinary specialists in treating eye diseases. 

DWR currently has 35 residents training to become specialists, with three specialising in ophthalmology. 

As part of the training process, the residents have completed various visits in the local area to examine the eyes of a wider range of species than they typically encounter in their day jobs.

Tom Large, post-residency clinician in ophthalmology at DWR, said: “As part of the training, residents need to learn about the eyes of all different species. This means examining everything from birds to horses, cows, pigs and goats. 

“Day-to-day, most of the patients we treat are cats and dogs, so throughout the residency we organise field trips where we can go out to places and examine a wide range of animals. 

“This is because one of the annual requirements of an ophthalmology residency is to examine a certain amount of animals in each category each year.” 

Tom said these field trips helped residents to not only fulfil an obligation of their training, but to acquire practical hands-on skills in examining all types of animals. 

He said: “We really appreciate the support of those who have helped us with these field trips – everyone from local farmers to owners of petting zoos. Their co-operation and willingness to accommodate a visit from us means we can examine the eyes of species of all types, which is invaluable training. 

“It helps us to understand the eyes of different species and what normal looks like for them, so when we’re working on clinical cases we can quickly spot when something is not normal. 

“It’s also very different to examine the eyes of animals and birds of different sizes – as you can imagine, examining a small reptile or a rabbit is quite different to looking at the eyes of a sheep or a cow. 

“So having the opportunity to examine different animals of all types and sizes helps to develop residents’ skills in handling these animals during the examination, as well as gaining experience of the optical examination itself.” 

Dick White Referrals offers specialist-led care in anaesthesia and analgesia, cardiology, dermatology, diagnostic imaging, diagnostic pathology, emergency and critical care, internal medicine, interventional radiology, neurology and neurosurgery, oncology, ophthalmology, orthopaedics, physiotherapy and soft tissue surgery. 

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