It's been just a few months since board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist Dr. Gwendolyn Lynch became affiliated with Virginia Tech's Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center. But in this short time, Lynch has provided many patients with much-needed specialized eye care, using equipment not available elsewhere in Northern Virginia.

“Because the [center] houses such state-of-the-art equipment, we can do procedures there that are just not available anywhere else in this area,” Lynch said. “Clients would have to travel to North Carolina, Pennsylvania, or Blacksburg, Va., to have some of the treatments available at the [equine medical center],” she noted.

Lynch is based out of Eye Care for Animals at the LifeCentre in Leesburg, and sees patients at the equine medical center on a weekly basis. To diagnose horses with ocular problems, Lynch utilizes a handheld biomicroscope to obtain a detailed look at the front half of the eye, an ophthalmoscope to look at the back of the eye, special stains to highlight corneal problems, a tonometer to test for glaucoma, an ocular ultrasound to look for retinal detachment, and an electroretinogram to test for retinal function. Specialized surgical equipment includes an operating microscope, lasers, and a cryotherapy unit.

“Having such a specialized service available can only improve the quality of care that horses receive,” Lynch stated. “In collaborating with the [center], I can already see that we are able to provide a valuable service in the Mid-Atlantic region,” she added.

Dr. Nathaniel White, director of the center says he agrees. “Our goal is to offer the best medical care for horses. Dr. Lynch provides an extra level of expertise for our patients that need this type of specialized care,” he said.

Attesting to this is Georgia Corey, owner of Elvis, a 12-year old Pinto Saddlebred. Lynch treated Elvis recently for a cancerous tumor discovered in his right eye by his veterinarian, Dr. Valerie Babcock.

“I noticed that Elvis’ eye was bloodshot, and I just thought that he had brushed against a branch,” Corey said. “But then it remained bloodshot, so when we saw Dr. Babcock, she identified it right away as a squamous cell carcinoma — one that she said would grow very quickly,” she continued.

“Fortunately, Dr. Babcock was aware that Dr. Lynch was now seeing patients at the [equine medical center],” Corey said. “So, in very short order, we had an appointment with Dr. Lynch. I brought Elvis in for an exam and a biopsy.

The biopsy revealed that Elvis not only had a tumor, but the tumor was malignant — and it was located on his eyeball, not on his eyelid or a membrane. “That scared me,” Corey noted. “My greatest fear was that he might lose his eye,” she said. “But, my worries were unfounded; everything worked out great.”

Elvis underwent his surgical procedure, which included the removal of the tumor as well as freezing the surrounding area, and Corey took him home the next day. “Since his surgery,” Corey said, “he has not slowed down at all,” she related. “He’s still a live wire — lots of fun. It was amazing to me that — not long after his surgery — we were out riding again. We’ve even done some new and different things together, which has been wonderful,” Corey said.

“Of course I was very pleased with the treatment that Elvis received, but the convenience factor is also noteworthy,” Corey said. “The fact that I could bring Elvis to Leesburg to obtain this type of specialized care was just so great. To not have to travel hours away for these kinds of treatments helps tremendously,” she added.

For more information about veterinary ophthalmologic care, visit Eye Care for Animals online. Lynch can be reached through her office at The LifeCentre in Leesburg at (571) 209-1190.

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