This year at the Illinois College of Optometry we celebrated the InfantSEE program with an evening of motivational speeches, songs, and food. I’m currently a 2nd year student there, and I wasn’t completely clear about the details of this program and the impact that it has. I learned a lot that evening, and would like to share some essential information about this extremely important and beneficial public health program:
- The goal of InfantSEE is to help provide early comprehensive eye exams for infants between 6 and 12 months of age.
- InfantSEE was launched by the American Optometric Association (AOA) and Vision Care Institute of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care Inc.
- The participating optometrists in the InfantSEE program provide comprehensive exams for infants at no cost. This gives incentive to pediatricians or family doctors to recommend more infants to optometrists for a full eye exam.
- According to the AOA’s standard of care, an infant’s first eye exam should be at six months old. This is a crucial age to check if the infant is behind on his or her vision development. More importantly, the eye exam can detect prevalent vision problems and ocular diseases in children, such as amblyopia, strabismus, refractive errors, congenital glaucoma, and retinoblastoma.
- The program also provides many additional guidelines and resources for optometry students and optometrists on how to perform an infant eye exam.
That evening at ICO, motivational speaker and performer Tom Sullivan talked about his personal struggles with congenital glaucoma and blindness. Due to his vision loss, he had a hard time making friends and was even looked down on by some members of his family. Mr. Sullivan wants
optometry students to understand the struggle he faces and the importance of treating vision disease earlier. He has become a well-known singer, writer, and actor despite losing his vision. He has
performed the U.S. National Anthem during the Super Bowl, appeared on the Good Morning America show, and won the Book for a Better Life award. As an advocate of the InfantSEE program, he has chosen to use his success to promote early vision care.
Mr. Sullivan’s message was clear: he wants optometry students to understand how it is to live with vision loss, and to realize the importance of comprehensive eye exams on infants to prevent vision loss at an early stage. So far, this program has been a success. There are 7,300 volunteering AOA optometrists in the InfantSEE program who have performed over 100,000 infant eye exams! If you have anything to add about the InfantSEE program or would like to share your experience providing comprehensive exams for infants, please comment below!
You can find more information listed on the InfantSEE website.