The American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists® (ACVO®) is an organization, not an actual physical location, that (through the American Board of Veterinary Ophthalmology® or ABVO®) has established certifying criteria for Diplomates of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (DACVO®) and residents in training to become Diplomates.

To become a DACVO, a person must first graduate from veterinary school, attain a minimum of 12 months full-time clinical practice as a veterinarian, and complete a 3-year or longer residency training program in veterinary ophthalmology.  The applicant then is permitted to take the ABVO certifying examination. The exam is a multi-day process consisting of multiple written and practical components. After achieving all of these criteria, a veterinarian is recognized as a "Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists" and is board-certified in veterinary ophthalmology. In the United States, no-one may use this title unless they have successfully completed all of these steps. 


The purpose of the ACVO is to advance ophthalmology in all phases of veterinary medicine. 


  • provide an organizational structure to facilitate efficient exchange of ideas of interest to specialists in veterinary and comparative ophthalmology,
  • encourage education, training, and research in veterinary ophthalmology,
  • establish standards of training and experience in this field and to recognize individuals who have fulfilled such standards.

Interested in becoming a veterinary ophthalmologist?



The basics are outlined above, but check out the website for details on what is needed to become board certified.


Need tips on how to locate a residency program? For more information about residency programs please contact the Residency Committee. More information may be available at

Credentials Verification - "Is my veterinarian board certified?"

You may wish to check our list of Active ACVO Member Diplomates to verify that your veterinarian is indeed a board certified specialist. In most cases if the veterinarian is not listed on our site, they are not ophthalmologists, specialists or board certified. If they are not listed in this referral area but state that they are a boarded ophthalmologist, there is a chance they could be boarded but are not ACVO members in good standing. Check this comprehensive list of boarded Diplomates to be certain. You may contact the ACVO office if you are unsure or would like clarification.

If you suspect someone is promoting themselves as "board certified", a "specialist in veterinary ophthalmology", an "ophthalmologist" or "Diplomate" of this College, and they do not appear to be board certified by the ACVO, please contact our office with this information. This practice may be in violation of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Board of Veterinary Specialists and/or the ACVO's Code of Ethics.

Credentialing outside of the United States

There are several colleges and/or societies around the world that certify veterinarians in their country. If you would like to locate a veterinary ophthalmologist outside of the U.S. this list of organizations may be a good place to start.

Professional Credentials & Membership Definitions


"Diplomate of the ACVO"® or "DACVO"®

A person who has completed all of the requirements of the American Board of Veterinary Ophthalmology® is board certified in veterinary ophthalmology and recognized as a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists®. This individual may use the certification "DACVO"® or "Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists"®. Legally in the United States, only board-certified persons may call themselves a "veterinary specialist", a "specialist in veterinary ophthalmology" or a “veterinary ophthalmologist".

Only Diplomates of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists® may conduct OFA exams.


"Member" of the ACVO

A boarded ACVO Diplomate who is also a current member of the ACVO in good standing and has agreed to adhere to a Code of Ethics standards demanded by their peers. These outstanding individuals have not only passed boards to become certified but also choose to participate in and support their professional community.  Make sure your veterinary ophthalmologists is a member of the ACVO, if they are they will be listed in the referral database on this site.  Only ACVO Diplomates may become members.


"Retired Member" of the ACVO

A member in good standing, who regularly works less than 8 hours per week, may submit a request to the Board of Regents to become a Retired Member.  This individual carries the same credentials as a Diplomate Member and may conduct OFA exams.


"Emeritus MEMBER" of the ACVO

Emeritus Membership is available to Diplomates who have been members of the ACVO for a minimum of 30 years, and have made sustained and significant contributions to the College.  Emeritus Membership must be nominated and elected into this esteemed position by their peers.  This individual may conduct OFA exams.


"Honorary Member" of the ACVO

Honorary Member status may be conferred upon an individual who has achieved distinction in comparative ophthalmology or who has made significant contributions to veterinary ophthalmology. This person is typically not a veterinary ophthalmologist and the designation is solely honorary. There are very few Honorary Memberships granted and it is considered an honor


"Practice limited to diseases of the (animal) eye"

A person who has successfully completed their residency training program but has not yet successfully completed the subsequent credentialing and examination requirements necessary to become board-certified may state that their practice is limited to diseases of the (animal) eye. These individuals may not call themselves or imply that they are "veterinary ophthalmologists", "specialists" or use the terminology "board-eligible or board-qualified". All of these phrases are considered confusing and not allowed by the American Board of Veterinary Specialists, the ABVO, or the ACVO.

These individuals may only use the following terminology to describe their credentials, "practice limited to diseases of the eye" or "practice limited to diseases of the animal eye


Resident in Veterinary Ophthalmology

An ABVO-approved veterinarian serving in an ABVO-approved residency training program in veterinary ophthalmology under the supervision of one or more Diplomates of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (DACVO). A veterinarian who has "completed a residency in veterinary ophthalmology" is not a board-certified specialist until they complete all other requirements.

Tips on How to Locate a Residency

Ophthalmology residencies are in high demand. Preparing for and locating one can be a challenge. Here area a few tips that may assist you in your preparation and search: 

Becoming a strong residency candidate... 
It is strongly encouraged that the interested candidate work to obtain a rotating internship in small animal medicine and surgery, preferably at an academic institution with ophthalmologists in the United States or Canada. An internship is a good way to acquire more skills in all parts of veterinary medicine and hopefully some ophthalmic skills. Additionally, conducting a research project with an ophthalmologist during an internship would be helpful to demonstrate the candidate's interest in ophthalmology, gain research experience, and develop a relationship with an ophthalmologist who could write letters those critically important letters of recommendation. 

Locating a residency program

  • Search ACVO's residency listings. 
  • Visit VIRMP for residency listings.
  • Contact veterinary ophthalmologists in your area to see if they have an established residency program or would be interested in applying for a residency program through the ACVO. (If not them...perhaps they know of a colleague seeking a resident.)
  • Review the list of current residency programs. 
  • Plan to attend the ACVO conference. Many Diplomates have told us this was an invaluable resource when they were seeking their own residency. The ACVO hosts a resident/mentor's session where prospective residents, and prospective and existing mentors attend to ask questions and make contacts. At the conference there is also resident directed education that you could attend along with other networking events. Visit for more information. (Interns and students are offered reduced rates.)
  • Consider attending a local chapter ophthalmology meeting (Check the ACVO calendar for postings and contact information.)
  • More networking...You can sign up as a member of the American Society of Veterinary Ophthalmology (ASVO) and/or International Society of Veterinary Ophthalmology (ISVO). They offer newsletters and networking events.
  • Consider subscribing to the Veterinary Ophthalmology journal to increase your education on veterinary ophthalmology and the authors (as leaders in their fields).
  • Join veterinary ophthalmology discussions on Facebook (Enter veterinary ophthalmology into FB search, anyone can sign up. Note: This is not an official ACVO site at this time.)
  • Consider attending the 3 week course, Basic Science Course, in veterinary ophthalmology designed for DVMs and residents. While the BSC is not intended to train veterinarians, it may offer the interested party an introduction to the basic sciences relevant to veterinary ophthalmology.