Rachael Van Horn
Woodward, Okla. —
A new trend in eye care that could save children frustration at school and parents needless worry has been slowly developing over the last several years, according to Certified Paraoptometric Jessica Allison.
Allison works with Woodward Optometrist Dr. Jacoby Dewald. Dewald is one of three eye care physicians here who are participating in InfantSEE, a national initiative promoting better vision care starting early in life.
This year, the InfantSEE program will take place from October 21 through 25.
"We have had the program for a while now, but it is really starting to catch on a lot," Allison said. "Most don't realize they are supposed to get their children's eyes checked that early."
Early eye exams starting at six months can prevent problems, such as a lazy eye, from getting much worse.
"The exam can catch and eye turning in, or other problems that the parent just doesn't realize are there," Allison said. "It's a really good deal, because if they are under a year old, the exam is free."
The Oklahoma Association of Optometric Physicians (OAOP) and its more than 600 members have named October 21-25 InfantSEE Week, said InfantSEE Spokesman, Sam Roop.
"InfantSEE is a public health program designed to ensure that eye and vision care becomes an integral part of infant wellness to improve a child’s quality of life," Roop said.
The goal is to reduce the disability that children suffer, sometimes unknowingly, from undetected vision problems, Roop said.
"In fact, one in every 10 children is at risk for undiagnosed eye and vision problems," he said. "Only 13 percent of mother with children under the age of two take their children for eye exams."
Roop said an eye exam is recommended as early as between 6 and 12 months.
"Clinical experience and research shows that at six months, the average child has reached a number of critical developmental milestones, making this the appropriate age for the first eye and vision exams," Roop said. "Successful treatment for certain ocular conditions detected in infants is likely with early intervention."
That means, Roop said, days and weeks spent wondering why a child is not doing well at school, or fails to begin reading with his or her peers or even has unexplained pain could be avoided.
Those who are interested in the program can call one of these three local Optometrists - Dr. David C. Jones and Dr. Matthew L. Scott at 256-7755; and Dr. Jacoby J. Dewald at 256-6699