Dr. Audrey Farnsworth of Battle Creek Eye Clinic in Battle Creek, MI, specializes in pediatric eye care, and is one of the few people in Battle Creek that offers a special program for infants called InfantSEE. Over 7,600 optometrists nationally provide this program to their communities.
InfantSEE (like infancy) is a national public health program started in 2005 and managed by Optometry Cares, the Foundation of the American Optometric Association (AOA), and is designed to ensure that eye and vision care becomes an essential part of an overall infant health and wellness program. As part of InfantSEE, participating optometrists provide a comprehensive, one-time infant eye assessment between 6 and 12 months of age as a no-cost public service.
Experts from AOA and American Public Health Association (APHA) agree that visual development is most dramatic between six and 12 months of age and that early detection can prevent and help reduce the threat of serious vision impairments. In fact, one in every ten children is at risk from undiagnosed eye and vision problems by the time they are 18 years of age. If left untreated, eye and vision problems can impact learning and may lead to permanent vision impairment.
"I'm very proud to be involved in InfantSEE to ensure healthy vision for our community's infants. As a relatively new mom myself, if it wasn't for my background of being an optometrist, I would not have known when to bring in my children for their first comprehensive eye exam," said Dr. Farnsworth.
Although infants cannot respond verbally, the first year of life is an ideal time to conduct an extensive eye assessment. Not only is this a critical time for eye and vision development, but generally children at this age do not yet fear doctor visits and find the assessment painless and often enjoyable. Typically, infants sit on their parent's lap during the assessment, in which the optometrist uses lights and other hand held objects to check that their eyes are working together and that there are no significant refractive issues that will impede proper vision development. The optometrist may also use drops to dilate the baby's pupils to ensure the health of the eye.
Even if no eye or vision problems are apparent in your child, the AOA recommends scheduling your baby's first eye assessment at six months. This is much like taking your child for their wellness visits with the pediatrician, so too, we expect that this is a wellness visit with the optometrist. The participating optometrist will test your baby for:
- excessive or unequal amounts of nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism
- eye movement ability
- eye health problems
While eye health problems are not common, identifying those children who have them early can make a big difference in their outcome. Like so many issues, vision development and eye health problems are easier to correct if treatment begins early.
"As parents, we regularly take our children to the dentist to help prevent cavities. Likewise, we should take our babies to the optometrist to help prevent potential eye and vision problems," said former President Carter. "Given my family's experience managing vision problems that were not caught early, I strongly encourage all parents with babies to visit an optometrist for an InfantSEE assessment during the first year of their child's life and I applaud AOA for providing parents this opportunity." Former President Carter's granddaughter was diagnosed and treated as a toddler for amblyopia, a leading cause of vision loss in people younger than 45, which will affect one in 30 children. His grandson's amblyopia was not identified until grade school, and may never be fully corrected.
It is easy to make an appointment with Dr. Farnsworth and your baby may even enjoy the visit. Put your child on the path to healthy eye care and schedule your free assessment today. Contact us at 269-405- 4545 or www.battlecreekeyeclinic.org.