Veterinary Ophthalmology Services

posted October 15th, 2010 by
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Margi Gilmour, DVM, associate professor at Oklahoma State University’s (OSU) Center for Veterinary Health Sciences is more than a veterinarian. A Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists, Gilmour is a board certified veterinary ophthalmologist. Board certification requires an additional four years beyond veterinary school. Currently the only ophthalmologist at the center’s Boren Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, Gilmour and Carey McCully, a registered veterinary technician (RVT), provide ophthalmology services for the more than 900 patients they treat a year.

“We treat all species,” says Gilmour. “We see mostly dogs with horses being the second highest. The more uncommon animals we treat are at the zoo—penguins, sea lions, polar bears and ostriches to name a few.”

According to Gilmour, animals suffer from many similar eye problems as humans.

“We treat trauma cases, eyelid, corneal and retinal diseases, glaucoma, dry eye, and cataracts. Cataract surgery is the most common ophthalmic surgery performed. We also serve as a diagnostic tool for our veterinary internal medicine service. If they are seeing a patient that is ill, we often examine the eyes to look for a systemic disease such as high blood pressure, cancer, or a fungal disease.”

One of the most memorable cases the ophthalmology service treated during Gilmour’s nearly ten years at the veterinary hospital was a trauma case involving a dog.

“A golden retriever was running at Boomer Lake and ran into a branch. The stick had pierced the dog’s head just on the inner side of its eyeball. The owner had the calm nerve to remove the stick and bring her to the hospital’s 24/7 emergency room.”

Gilmour goes on to say that the dog was obviously in pain. They anesthetized her and began removing the splinters left behind from the stick.

“Under our microscope, each splinter looked like a tree,” recalls Gilmour. “We removed splinters from beside and behind the eye for at least 45 minutes. It was amazing to see how far behind the eye the stick traveled without penetrating the eye. It was a most rewarding case because the dog never lost its eyesight and healed well.”

While owners may not have a lot of control in protecting their animals’ eyes, there are few precautions they can take.

“If you own a horse with white around its eye, use a mask with specific ultraviolet protection,” says Gilmour. “Like in humans, ultraviolet light can lead to cancer. These horses are susceptible to squamous cell carcinoma cancer and can lose their eye. It is important to protect them from the UV rays.” “For dog owners, don’t let your dogs ride with their heads out the car window,” adds McCully.

While general practitioner veterinarians are equipped to measure tear production and stain for ulcerations, the OSU veterinary hospital has equipment and faculty/staff expertise to handle that and much more due to specialization.

“We have an electroretinogram to determine retinal function and an ocular ultrasound to examine structures in the eye not visible on the exam such as the retina behind an opaque cataract,” explains Gilmour. “We can measure eye pressure and use magnifying instruments that allow us to look both in the front of and the back of the eye in much greater detail.”

The list of services available at the veterinary hospital includes ophthalmic surgery involving the eyelids and the globe (cornea, lens, laser treatment for glaucoma), diagnostics, slit lamp biomicroscopy and indirect ophthalmoscopy.

Vision testing can be a challenge but Gilmour often uses how an animal tracks falling cotton balls or how they maneuver through an obstacle course to determine the extent of vision.

“A dog can’t hear cotton balls land and can’t smell them so they have to watch them. Using an obstacle course and varying the lighting can help determine if a dog has poor night vision or has difficulty seeing low-contrast items or low objects. Determining the level of vision loss can alter therapy. If an animal has permanently lost vision it is important for owners to know the necessary precautions for keeping their pet safe.”

Gilmour earned her DVM from Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine. She completed a one year Small Animal Medicine and Surgery Internship at the University of Georgia followed by a one year Residency in Ophthalmology at Veterinary Ophthalmology of New England. She then completed a three year Residency in Ophthalmology at The Ohio State University. After working in private practices in Florida, Kentucky and Washington, she came to OSU in 2001 to teach, treat patients and do research.

“I chose ophthalmology because it emcompasses both medicine and surgery and involves treating all species,” says Gilmour.

McCully earned her veterinary technician degree from OSU-OKC/ Murray State College followed by her certification exam to become a registered veterinary technician, which is similar to a registered nurse in human medicine. She came to OSU in 2004 and began working with the Ophthalmology Department in 2006. McCully is the ophthalmology RVT whenever Gilmour is on clinics.

Gilmour and McCully offer pet owners this advice: If you have a concern about your pet’s eyes, call and make an appointment. While 75 percent of their cases come as referrals from veterinarians, a referral appointment is not always necessary since the OSU’s veterinary hospital is open to the public.

“For some diseases, early intervention is key,” adds McCully. “If the disease goes on too long, the damage can’t be reversed. However, if seen early on, vision may be preserved.”

The Oklahoma State University Center for Veterinary Health Sciences is one of 28 veterinary colleges in the United States and is fully accredited by the Council on Education of the American Veterinary Medical Association. The center’s Boren Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital is open to the public and provides routine and specialized care for small and large animals. It also offers 24-hour emergency care and is certified by the American Animal Hospital Association. For more information, visit or call (405) 744-7000.

One Response to “Veterinary Ophthalmology Services”

  1. Donetta Lewis says:


    I was told My dog which has diabetes and has developed cataracts in both eyes. His Vet at Woodlake animal hospital in Oklahoma city oklahoma at 405-721-6604, Is going to make a referal, I’m interested in having one eye done ASAP. I also want to know what the cost is. Please contact me or the Vet’s office on information. I can be reached at 405-343-5399 my name is Donetta Lewis or email [email protected].

    Donetta Lewis

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