Ophthalmology: Always Accessible, Always Approachable

Willows is home to one of the UK’s strongest Veterinary Ophthalmology teams with experience in diagnosing, treating and managing thousands of patients with a full range of complex eye conditions. Direct access to our Specialist Internal Medicine and Emergency and Critical Care teams offers an unrivalled multidisciplinary approach for ophthalmic conditions.

Complimented by world-class Diagnostic Imaging facilities and Specialist Radiologists, Willows ensures world-leading diagnostics, interpretation, treatment and related procedures for the most complex eye conditions.

Our Ophthalmology team are supported by highly trained veterinary nurses providing round the clock post-operative and follow up patient care.

At Willows we are ‘Committed to Excellence’, with this our Ophthalmologists are committed to excellence at every level, and with each and every patient that they see and treat.


What can I Expect if my Pet is Referred to an Ophthalmic Specialist?

The starting point for each patient referred to an Ophthalmic Specialist at Willows is a full consultation and discussion with the owner. The routine ophthalmic examinations and further diagnostic techniques that can be performed include:

  • Schirmer tear test readings
  • Slit-lamp biomicroscopy and tonometry (rebound or applanation)
  • Close and distant direct ophthalmoscopy
  • Indirect ophthalmoscopy
  • Gonioscopy
  • Advanced diagnostic techniques i.e. ocular ultrasonography and electroretinography.

What are the Most Common Ophthalmic Conditions?

Our Specialist Ophthalmologists have a broad range of interests in both medical and surgical eye conditions including:

  • Eyelid disorders and reconstructive lid surgery
  • Glaucoma management
  • Investigation and treatment of ocular inflammatory disease
  • Sudden onset blindness/SARDS (Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome)
  • Corneal sequestrum and corneal grafting procedures for the management of corneal ulcers and other disorders of the cornea.

Our Specialist team also have a major interest in lens luxation and cataracts, and in particular their surgical management by phacoemulsification.


What Facilities are Available at Willows?

Patients undergoing eye treatment and surgery not only benefit from Specialist expertise, but also from access to state-of-the-art specialised ophthalmic surgical equipment including:

  • State-of-the-art phacoemulsification equipment
  • High specification Zeiss operating microscope
  • Cryotherapy unit
  • Diode laser unit
  • Corneal cross-linking.

Meet The Team

Rodrigo Pinheiro de Lacerda


Head of Ophthalmology

RCVS Specialist in Veterinary Ophthalmology

EBVS® European Specialist in Veterinary Ophthalmology

Rodrigo graduated from the University of Lisbon (Portugal) in 2006 and spent the following 6 months working in a small animal hospital in Lisbon. In 2007 he undertook a Small Animal Medicine and Surgery Internship at the Animal Health Trust (Newmarket), where he developed a strong interest in Ophthalmology, and actually visited Willows’ Ophthalmology Department as part of his training.

Rodrigo extended his clinical experience visiting several referral ophthalmology practices in the UK following his internship. During the next two years he further pursued this interest and obtained the General Practitioner Certificate in Ophthalmology. From 2011 to 2014 he completed an ophthalmology residency training programme by the European College of Veterinary Ophthalmology at the University of Barcelona (Spain).

Rodrigo joined Willows in April 2015 and was awarded the Diploma of the European College of Veterinary Ophthalmology in 2016. Along with a passion for surgery, Rodrigo also enjoys the challenges of the daily clinical work.

In his spare time he enjoys the company of his Dachshund (Cacao) and British Shorthair (Areia), as well as playing football, tennis, skiing and, when back home, surfing.

Samuela Mazzucchelli


RCVS Specialist in Veterinary Ophthalmology

EBVS® European Specialist in Veterinary Ophthalmology

Following graduation from the University of Milan, in 2004, Samuela moved to France to complete externships at the University of Maisons Alfort and the Fregis Veterinary Hospital. It was during this time that she developed a strong interest in Veterinary Ophthalmology and completed the Diplome d’Ecole d’Ophthalmologie Veterinaire at the University of Maisons Alfort.

Samuela returned to Italy in 2006 to undertake an Internship in Small Animal Medicine and Surgery at the Clinica Veterinaria San Marco (Padova). From 2007 to 2010, she completed an ECVO Ophthalmology residency training programme.

After the completion of the ECVO program in 2010, Samuela returned to northern Italy where she worked as an independent Specialist in Ophthalmology. She has also spent periods of time working in the UK since 2015. Samuela was awarded the Diploma of the European College of Veterinary Ophthalmology in 2015, and she became a European Specialist in Veterinary Ophthalmology. She also became a recognised RCVS Specialist in Veterinary Ophthalmology in 2018.

Samuela joined Willows Veterinary Centre and Referral Service in July 2017. She has a special interest in ocular pathology as well as corneal disease and surgery. Samuela says “Working at Willows allows me to be part of a talented and passionate team, and a chance to become the best Ophthalmologist I can. Willows offers a very high level of patient care, and working here gives me the opportunity for constant scientific and clinical development”.

In her spare time, Samuela enjoys spending time with her two horses Eclipse and Lohengrina. She loves travelling all around the world discovering new cultures, meeting people, visiting countries, and watching wildlife.

Alberto Palella Gomez


EBVS® European Specialist in Veterinary Ophthalmology

Alberto graduated from the University of Madrid in 2013, where he developed a passion for Veterinary Ophthalmology. During his final years as a student, he was awarded a two-year scholarship at the Ophthalmology department of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

After graduating, Alberto worked for a few months in general practice and then moved to the UK, where he worked for two years in a busy small animal hospital. In 2016, he completed a 12-month rotating small animal internship at Willows Veterinary Centre and Referral Service. Alberto then returned to Willows in December 2017 to undertake an Ophthalmology internship, after which he began his residency. Alberto completed his residency in December 2021 and became a European Specialist in Veterinary Ophthalmology in June 2023.

Alberto enjoys all aspects of Veterinary Ophthalmology and has a particular interest in corneal surgery, uveitis and neuro-ophthalmology; and is actively involved in several research projects.

In his spare time, Alberto enjoys photography, especially landscape and wildlife, mountain biking, travelling around the world and in particular, discovering new places in the UK.

Marisa Perez Orrico


ECVO Resident In Veterinary Ophthalmology

I graduated from UCH-CEU in Valencia (Spain) in 2005, where I discovered my passion for ophthalmology. I worked in general practice and I obtained the C.E.S. in Veterinary Ophthalmology from the ENVT (France) in 2008. Since then, I have worked mainly in referral ophthalmology centres in Spain and UK.

Over the years, I have done externships in referral centres in Europe and Australia, developed my research skills, published in peer-review journals and presented in international congresses.

I also developed a strong interest in teaching and I enjoy lecturing the exotic animal module of the postgraduate Diploma in Veterinary Ophthalmology organized by the UCM in Madrid (Spain). Additionally, I have collaborated with exotic animal specialists and provided ophthalmology advice to several exotic animal services, zoos and aquariums.

In December 2021, I started my ECVO residency at Willows Veterinary Centre and Referral Service, under the supervision of Dr Samuela Mazzucchelli and Dr Rodrigo Pinheiro de Lacerda. Out of work,

I enjoy travelling, outdoor activities, and spending time with my family, friends and my rescued dog and cat.

Kayal Patel


Ophthalmology Intern

Kayal graduated from the University of Nottingham in July 2020 and began working in a first opinion practice in north west Manchester before joining the Rotating Intern team at Willows in January 2023. During his time at university and in practice, he has developed a keen interest in ophthalmology and is looking forward to furthering his skillset in this area as an Ophthalmology Intern.

Kayal has a goldendoodle named Elton and in his spare time, he enjoys exercising and is a keen golfer. Kayal also enjoys both playing and following football.