Due to the overwhelming number of children with eye and vision problems across the United States, South Carolina optometrists are devoting appointments to no-cost, comprehensive eye and vision assessments for infants between six to 12 months of age through InfantSEE®.
InfantSEE®, a public health program developed by Optometry Cares - The AOA Foundation and Vistakon®, Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc., was designed to provide professional eye care for infants nationwide at no-cost, regardless of family income or number of eligible children.
"Detecting vision problems at an early age is the best way to ensure our children have healthy vision for successful development and learning," said Sen. Paul Campbell (R-44). "Educating parents about the importance of establishing ongoing vision care for their children beginning at a very young age is also a top priority. I encourage families in South Carolina to take advantage of this free eye examination through InfantSEE® and the South Carolina Optometric Physicians Association."
"What a wonderful gift of time and talent by South Carolina's optometrists to offer free eye exams to infants between birth and one year of age," said Sen. Luke Rankin (R-33). "I encourage all South Carolinians to take advantage of this opportunity for early detection and treatment for our infant's vision problems."
Leading members of the South Carolina House have also expressed their support for the InfantSEE® program.
"This is a wonderful opportunity to have children at an early age get their vision tested," said Rep. Mike Sottile (R-112). "This will only enhance the well being of the child for many years to come. I just want to say thank you to the South Carolina optometrists for providing this great service."
"What a wonderful opportunity for all involved," said Rep. Joe Daning (R-92). "The optometrists are serving the community by providing free eye screenings to infants. Parents are being educated in the need for proper and early detection of vision problems and best of all a free exam for infants under a year of age. This is an exciting opportunity for our community. Thanks to the optometrists of South Carolina!"
"As an optometric physician and a state representative, I see the importance of comprehensive eye examinations for infants every day. I am personally excited to be a part of the InfantSEE® South Carolina tour and encourage all South Carolinians to take advantage of this opportunity," said Dr. Deborah Long (R-45), an optometrist from Ft. Mill.
To help protect infant vision and eye health, local mayors declared Monday, September 20 through Saturday, September 25 InfantSEE® Week in South Carolina.
"Early detection of vision problems is the best way to treat and prevent permanent vision impairment," said Greenville Mayor Knox White. "On behalf of our City Council I encourage all our citizens to participate in InfantSEE® Week."
"The most critical stages of vision development occur in the first year of a child's life," said Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr. "I urge all our citizens to schedule an InfantSEE® exam for their infants."
One in 10 children is at risk from undiagnosed eye and vision problems, which, if undetected, could lead to permanent vision impairment, and in rare cases, life-threatening health risks. However, only 14 percent of children from infancy to age six have had a comprehensive eye assessment from an eye care professional. In South Carolina, great strides are being made to ensure that potential eye and vision problems are detected early. Infant eye assessments have been available in South Carolina since the InfantSEE® program launched in 2005.
"Many parents are surprised to learn that the first year of life is one of the most critical stages of a child's visual development," said Dr. Jennie Smith, a South Carolina optometrist and InfantSEE® provider. "It's the ideal time to detect eye and vision problems before these conditions worsen or cause developmental delays."
"With so many people needing eye care, this is an excellent opportunity for South Carolina," said Addie Bunn, Communications Manager, United Way Association of South Carolina. "Since 2008, United Way has been working to achieve a 10-year goal: to increase by one-third the number of youth and adults who are healthy and avoid risky behaviors by 2018. This will be one step closer to reaching that goal."
The program launched in 2005 with support from former President Jimmy Carter, honorary national spokesperson. Nearly 8,000 optometrists nationwide volunteer their time to provide assessments to babies in their communities. The majority of vision problems detected include retinoblastoma (eye cancer), severe hyperopia (farsightedness), myopia (nearsightedness), congenital glaucoma and congenital cataract.
"I heard about the InfantSEE® program from a family member and wondered how an infant could have their eyes tested at such a young age," said Kamela Snider, a local mother of Makenzie, 11 months. "I was amazed when I saw how the tests were performed and the amount of information that could be obtained about the health and vision of my baby's eyes. It was such a relief to know that my child's vision was developing as it should be."
To continue to improve infant eye assessment rates in South Carolina, parents can bring their infant in for a no-cost assessment at the InfantSEE® Mobile Clinic stationed in towns across the state. Also, for those parents who can't make it to the InfantSEE® Mobile Clinic, optometrists from around the state will be providing these no-cost InfantSEE® eye assessments from September 20 through 25 in their offices by appointment.