CA: Program born in Memphis screens babies’ eyes

CA: Program born in Memphis screens babies’ eyes

“Five years ago, Knoxville mother Melissa Glover debated whether it would be worth it to travel to Memphis to have her son’s eyes examined.

Anderson was 8 months old at the time, and his pediatrician never mentioned anything when his eyes were screened during basic check ups. Paula Baker, Glover’s aunt, worked at the Southern College of Optometry and urged her to come and get an exam from an optometrist who participated in InfantSEE, a program that provides free eye examinations for babies under a year old.

The optometrist told Glover her son had a pediatric cataract. If left untreated, Anderson would lose sight in his eye.

InfantSEE is a public health program designed for babies between the ages of 6 and 12 months to receive free eye assessments. Now in its 10th year, the program has served 121,000 babies nationwide. The program is now managed by Optometry Cares – The American Optometric Association Foundation, but it began in Memphis.

Today InfantSEE has a network of 7,200 optometrists across the country who volunteer their services and provide the assessments for free, said Glen Steele, chairman of the InfantSEE committee. Roughly 180 of those are in Tennessee, he said.

Babies receive eye screenings when they visit their pediatrician, but those visits are usually focused on looking for very specific conditions like lazy eye. Other issues can often slip through unnoticed when babies are so young, Steele said. InfantSEE optometrists perform an in-depth examination to check factors like eye contact, movement and level of engagement with surroundings, he said.

Glover said she will always be grateful she listened to her aunt and took advantage of InfantSEE’s services.

“We are at such a good place now — he plays every sport, he’s in the highest reading group in his class,” Glover said. “These are all things he wouldn’t be able to do because he couldn’t see.””

CA: Program born in Memphis screens babies’ eyes

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