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InfantSEE sets sights on early detection of vision problems in babies

babyvisionBy Betsy Stein

Did you know all infants should see an eye doctor between 6 and 12 months — and that the initial exam can be free?

Most parents don’t, according to a survey by the American Optometric Association.

Optometry Cares, the AOA Foundation, offers a program called InfantSEE to provide professional eye care for infants nationwide. Through InfantSEE, optometrists provide a one-time, comprehensive eye assessment to infants in their first year of life, offering early detection of potential eye and vision problems at no cost, regardless of income, according to a press release from AOA.

“Even if a child isn’t showing any signs or symptoms of problems, there could still be issues with their vision,” said Dr. Glen Steele, chairman of the InfantSEE Committee. “If it’s not detected and treated early, a number of eye and vision conditions can impair an infant’s ability to reach important developmental milestones, create lifelong learning and social problems and even threaten sight.”

Visual development is most dramatic between 6 and 12 months, making it a critical time to detect and treat eye and vision problems before they worsen or cause developmental delays. Optometrists have training and tools to identify conditions that might not be detected in a routine pediatric wellness exam. InfantSEE doctors are able to detect conditions such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, lazy eye, crossed eyes and even cancerous tumors. Vision development and eye health problems are easier to correct if treatment begins early.

“Since the launch of InfantSEE, we’ve documented over 100,000 babies that optometrists have seen,” Steele said. “In the 85 years prior to that, there were very few babies seen by optometrists. We are bringing that level of care to a population that has never had it before.”

The AOA recommends that infants have the InfantSEE assessment before their first birthday. Unless problems are detected, the next exam should be at age 3, again before entering school, and then yearly.

To locate a participating InfantSEE provider in the area, visit the InfantSEE website. There are a number in Annapolis and the surrounding counties.

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