Trip to New York City

Back in March, Betty McDonnell posted an appeal from a New York City (human) ophthalmologist, Dr. Emil Chynn, who is looking for myopic (nearsighted) dogs. Dr. Chynn runs a large LASEK center and is interested in finding candidate dogs for possible laser surgery to improve the dog's eyesight.

Last month Marian Shaw, DVM, and I drove together from Maryland to New York City on a (long) day trip, each bringing a dog to Dr. Chynn. Marian brought her Norfolk, Hattie, as a possible candidate; Hattie regularly drops bars in agility and we were curious if myopia might be the explanation. I brought my Norwich, Mandy, as a "control" dog; I did not suspect that Mandy had any vision problem - Mandy does well in agility plus my dogs get annual eye exams - but I was curious about the test.

We had to schedule our appointment with Dr. Chynn for 5 pm - after appointments with his human patients. So in the morning Marian and Hattie had an agility lesson with trainer Frankie Joisis in northern New Jersey. We then drove into New York City and parked near the AKC offices. We had a late lunch at a nice Moroccan restaurant. (You can take well-mannered dogs in Sherpa bags into restaurants in New York City!) I then did some more pedigree research at the AKC library, while Marian enjoyed the dog art and looking through some books. When it was time we walked to Dr. Chynn's office which was not far away.

We did not have any difficulty finding Dr. Chynn's office. Our biggest problem was finding a place for our rural and suburban dogs to "do their business" in the concrete city. But finally we were able to find a bit of grass (for Hattie) and a bit of sand (for Mandy) that was acceptable to each of them. Whew! We really did not any accidents in the doctor's office.

We arrived at the doctor's office at the appointed time. As you might expect, the staff made a big fuss about our dogs, commenting on how well-behaved they were. (My excitable Mandy was sitting calmly in a chair; by this time I think she was in culture shock about a visit to the big Apple.) We each paid $50 to help cover Dr. Chynn's office costs for the tests.

To determine if our dogs are nearsighted or farsighted, the staff used an "autorefractor". This is an opthalmologic device where a human rests their chin and forehead and looks into the lens of the device. The device shines a low-intensity light into the eyes and using the reflection is able to accurately determine the degree of nearsightedness or farsightedness of each eye lens. If you wear glasses and have recently had your eyes checked, you may have used an autorefractor to get an initial prescription for your glasses.

Of course, our dogs are not human. So we had to hold our dogs up, keep their heads still, and try to get them to look through the lens. We used the same procedures as show photographers to try to get our dogs to look in a particular direction; making silly sounds, etc. The staff took several readings, and Dr. Chynn evaluated the results. For both our dogs, Dr. Chynn reported that both are slightly farsighted ... which is considered normal for dogs. (So myopia is not the cause of Hattie dropping bars.)

After a meal at a (Cuban cuisine) restaurant while we waited for the Friday evening traffic to thin out, we had an uneventful drive back to Maryland.

Afterward - My apologies for the delay in this report. Right after this trip, I had a trip to Toronto (more pedigree research), followed by a judging assignment, and then new puppies arriving.

I also serendipitously had an appointment with my human ophthalmologist. At the conclusion of my appointment, I told the story about my dog and the autorefractor, and showed the numbers that Dr. Chynn's staff had produced. My doctor's comment was that the numbers were highly eratic - as might be expected when trying to get a dog to look through a lens. He suggested using either a hand-help autorefractor, or even better - sedating the dog - in order to get more accurate measurements.

In conclusion, Marian and I had an enjoyable (though long) day. Having our dogs' eyes checked with an autorefractor was an interesting bit of research.

Blair Kelly