According to the Michigan Optometric Association (MOA), one in every 10 children is at risk from undiagnosed eye and vision problems.
This statistic is what makes optometrists across the state passionate about participating in the InfantSEE® program, a national public health initiative available to the public at no cost, regardless of household income.
“Visual development is most dramatic between six and 12 months of age and early detection can prevent and help reduce the threat of serious vision impairments,” said Jeffrey Kenyon, O.D., MOA Children’s Vision Committee Chair and InfantSEE provider. “Children’s vision problems can be completely hidden, therefore a thorough eye and vision evaluation by an optometrist will ensure problems are detected early and provide the first step to a lifetime of healthy vision.”
Although infants cannot respond verbally, the first year of life is an ideal time to conduct an InfantSEE exam. At this age, even without a verbal response from the child, an optometrist is able to gather many components typical of an adult exam and provide parents with information regarding their infant’s current and future vision development milestones.
During the assessment, infants typically sit on their parent’s lap as the optometrist performs the exam. The optometrist uses lights and other hand held objects to check that the infant’s eyes are working together and there are no significant issues that may impede vision development.
Following the assessment, the optometrist will discuss or send a summary of information to the infant’s parents, pediatrician, family physician or other health care provider to report any significant condition diagnosed during the course of the assessment.
Early intervention is critical to successful and cost-effective treatment. Despite the nation’s present system of school vision screenings, there is a lack of public understanding of the importance of annual eye assessments. If left untreated, vision problems can make learning difficult and may lead to permanent vision impairment.
“Through their clinical education and experience, optometrists have the means to provide the most effective primary eye care to children,” said Dr. Kenyon. “I recommend parents include a visit to the optometrist as part of their infant wellness care program.”
For more information or to locate a Michigan Optometric Association InfantSEE optometrist in your area, call toll-free (888) 396-EYES or visit www.infantsee.org and click on the doctor locator link at the top of the page.