By: Clint Sugnet SUNY 2013
So you’re in optometry school. You’re juggling didactic material with clinical skills, textbooks and retinoscopes, all while managing life skills, and in the spare time, a social life. You’re trying to make your way through school to become the best clinician possible, reading the latest and greatest in optometric journals and newsletters from every organization out there. But you don’t need to get involved with all that until you graduate right? WRONG.
Amongst the many programs and organizations out there, InfantSEE is a program that is simple and easy enough for you as a student to implement into your busy and hectic lives as interns.
InfantSEE is an optometric program in which infants are put through a comprehensive exam by their first birthday for the small price of $0.00 dollars. Designed and organized by the American Optometric Association, InfantSEE’s public health initiative is to improve an infant’s quality of life and ensure that vision care becomes an important part of infant wellness. Currently, of children below the age of 6, only 14% are likely to have an eye and vision examination. This is where you as a student can play a role in boosting those numbers. It’s as easy as dropping one liners to patients if you know they have children or physically see them squirming in their arms in the waiting room.
Many parents aren’t aware of the many conditions that can be present within the first year of life, and it’s your obligation as an up-and-coming health care provider to enlighten your patients. Conditions that raise a concern include problems in ocular motility, binocular function, refraction, fixation patterns, and ocular health. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” is often the motto of parents, neglecting to bring their children in for an exam if they can’t see anything wrong with their child’s vision. Most conditions that may be present aren’t extremely obvious, and therefore are often overlooked.
We’re not saying you need to jump at all your patients and inquire all the ins and outs of their parenting styles, but use your position in that white coat, to advance the treatment of infants vision and eye care, starting right in your exam room. Your role as a provider is not only to assess, diagnose, and treat these children if they present to your clinic, but to educate the parents on the benefits of having their infant examined, all while reminding them that it’s FREE. By getting these infants in for an exam, you will be assuring that the infant’s eye and vision health is up to par. Say something, get involved, and sign up when you finally get that license in the mail.
-Clint Sugnet, SUNY 2013