Make a Difference in Children’s Lives

By Dr. Ann Rea Miller

Children’s vision has always been something I’ve actively participated in since graduating optometry school. Presenting RealEyes to children in schools and seeing babies 6-12 months through the InfantSEE program just seemed like something I needed to be involved in. It seemed natural to me that optometrists should focus on kids vision with our knowledge that 80% of what we learn is through our eyes. Having poor vision while children are in school can lead to poor grades, children who become disruptive because they can’t see what is being taught, get bored and may be unable to verbalize their problems. Kids may even be misdiagnosed with ADHD or unnecessary IEPs may be issued which could potentially cause unnecessary emotional turmoil for children and/or their families.

So many times after I examine a child and tell their parent(s) about the problem I’m finding with the child’s eyes, the parent(s) are shocked because their child did not tell them they were having problems. Parents feel guilty and beat themselves up about why they didn’t take their child to see me sooner. We all know that some people tolerate all kinds of blur without complaining, especially children who do not have expectations of what their vision should be. I love that we, as optometrists, are able to have a positive impact on these children’s lives and allow them clarity through contact lenses or glasses to function at a higher level.

I have done many RealEyes presentations since graduating. Some go better than others and just when you feel like the students may not have gotten the message as well as I was intending, I get clarity to my own perceptions of what the children really got out of my presentations.

Recently I presented to a school and really was concerned that the children may not have gotten the messages I was trying to teach them about their eyes, vision, and getting their eyes checked yearly to keep their eyes healthy. After my presentations that day, I really started to question whether I should have spent my time that day versus seeing patients and making money, or spending time with my son. My questioning was put to a halt when I received over 20 thank you letters from kids who wrote to me about what they enjoyed when I was in their classroom and the favorite thing they learned about their eyes…they really had paid attention! We need to remember that kids’ brains are like sponges and they soak in so much knowledge. We need to remember that kids are our future.

We need to take the time to educate them on the importance of their vision and eye health. It amazes me how often I have a child who comes into the office because they have told their parent(s) about what they learned through my presentation and the child was made aware of what blurry vision was and they realized they were experiencing it. Our goal should be to examine all young children and treat vision problems when needed, therefore allowing children the ability to learn more easily by having clear vision. I urge everyone to take the time to impact young kids’ lives through RealEyes and InfantSEE to provide the knowledge and expertise we are able to provide. As a bonus, remember that one day the children you impact (and the rest of their family) may become your patients in the process.

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Pediatric Eye Care: Our Duty to Educate and Promote Available Programs

By: Kari R. Cardiff, O.D.

We all can agree that proper eye care is essential for infants and children. Why then are we still encountering a twelve-year-old child with refractive amblyopia who has never been examined and has never worn glasses or patched? I believe it is partly because the child’s family was never told to get their child’s eyes examined. Since the child has clear vision in one eye, the child never complained. Perhaps the child had a school screening but the good eye was tested first and the child memorized the letters? I feel that conversations about InfantSEE, RealEyes, and pediatric eye care in general should be a standard in our everyday lives as eye doctors. Whether the child is seven months old or twelve years old, normal visual development and clarity is essential for taking in all the world has to offer.

During the first several months of a typical child’s life, the brain is intensely attending to all new sights, sounds, tastes, and touches. When the brain is so accepting of new information and change, it can be easily transformed for the better or for the worse. For instance, any disruption in binocular vision in a young child can result in amblyopia. We are aware of the fact that a non-premature, developmentally classic baby should have their first eye exam between six months and twelve months old. When is the last time you told someone this or about the InfantSEE program and the importance of an eye exam before age 1? I take advantage of every opportunity to inform people about these things. Here are some examples of situations where I have had the opportunity to educate on InfantSEE: when examining an expecting parent (female or male); when examining older siblings of infants; and in conversations with friends and family. This is my usual statement: “Did you know I offer free eye examinations to babies 6-12 months old here? It is through a program called InfantSEE. We will assess the baby’s visual behavior, ocular health, glasses prescription, and eye alignment. This exam can be imperative for the baby’s vision development. A baby’s eye examination is quite different than an adult’s. Don’t worry, I won’t be asking them what is better, 1 or 2?” After the exam, I send a report to the patient’s family and pediatrician to keep everyone informed. Even if you do not participate in the InfantSEE program, I am sure the Ohio Optometric Association would be happy to connect you with someone who does.

As all of us were taught, 80% of learning occurs through vision. Typical school-aged children require clear and comfortable vision for effective learning. Most school nurse and pediatrician office screenings do a wonderful job of prioritizing patients and separating out the normal from abnormal; however, I feel that it is still important to remind parents, teachers, pediatricians, and school nurses that nothing replaces a complete and dilated eye examination with an eye doctor who is comfortable seeing children.

I am a RealEyes presenter and the programs and curriculum are always fantastic and age-appropriate. But I strongly believe the most important part comes at the end of presentation when I hand out the worksheets and state, “Please go home and show this to your family. Tell them that you want to go to the eye doctor for an examination. Tell them about what you learned today. Even though you may think you see well, an eye doctor can make sure your eyes are healthy and are functioning at the best of their ability.”  Even if only 25% of the children go home and follow through, that is still 25% more children getting eye examinations. For ‘Sammy Safe-eyes,’ the pre-K and Kindergarten curriculum, I inform kids that when they sign their name at the bottom of the first page this acts as a promise that they will go home and share what they have learned with their family. Also, with each visit to the school, I am able to interact with school nurses and teachers. I always heighten their awareness regarding the importance of eye care. Some teachers do not know about VSP school vouchers for students with suspected poor vision and limited resources for eye care. I always give out my business cards to teachers and school nurses.  I make it a point of letting them know that they should not hesitate to call me with questions or concerns about their students. Additionally, I also often ask friends and family who are teachers in Ohio if RealEyes is presented at their school. If it is not, I take whatever steps I can to further the prospects of these schools having the program.

We should all strive to take every opportunity to educate parents, teachers, nurses, pediatricians, and friends about the importance and significance of appropriate vision care for all of the infants and children we encounter. A definite here is that we all love eye care.  Who doesn’t love kids? No eye doctor can deny their love of talking about eye balls! I believe that more consistent discussions and proactive education in regards to InfantSEE, RealEyes, and general pediatric eye care can make a priceless difference in countless numbers of children’s lives.  Please do your part.

Marketing the InfantSEE Program at the Local Level

Miller 968By Jason Miller, OD, MBA – InfantSEE®, the American Optometric Association’s public health program to provide comprehensive eye assessments to infants in the first year of life at no cost, has firmly taken root since its introduction in the summer of 2005. How can optometrists best promote this public health program in their communities?

Fortunately, it is not difficult. The InfantSEE® public awareness campaign was designed from the start to be applicable at both the national and local levels. Read my column, InfantSEE in Optometry that was first published in 2007. The information remains current today.

Dr. Miller is a member of the Ohio Optometric Association and is the coordinator of the Central Ohio Optometric Association’s InfantSEE® program. He can be contacted at jasonrmiller@columbus.rr.com.

Dr. Frasco Receives InfantSEE Award

Dr. Cara Frasco, who lives in Beavercreek and practices at Pioneer Vision Care in Springboro and Middletown, received the W. David Sullins InfantSEE Award at Optometry’s Meeting in San Diego.

Dr. Glen Steele, chair of the AOA InfantSEE Committee presented the award.

According to Dr. Steele, “On a local level, this year’ s recipient of the Sullins Award is from Ohio – one of the most active states for InfantSEE. She is the InfantSEE coordinator for the Dayton Area (Ohio’s Zone 9) which includes approximately 170 members. She is a mentor to the other doctors in Zone 9, offering support when needed regarding InfantSEE assessments. She coordinated the Zone 9 event for InfantSEE week in Ohio in 2011. She is an ambassador for InfantSEE in her community with colleagues and with local pediatricians. She is the perfect candidate to receive the David Sullins Award. Some have stated that “InfantSEE has not sent anyone to my office.” Dr. Cara Frasco didn’t wait for someone else. She set out to make a difference for optometry in her state and in her community.”

Dr. Frasco received her optometry degree and a concurrent master’s degree in vision science from The Ohio State University College of Optometry. She also completed a residency in pediatric optometry at the University of Houston. She became a volunteer when InfantSEE launched in 2005. Dr. Frasco is one of the leading optometrists in the country for electronic reporting of InfantSEE assessments. In 2012, she electronically reported 59 InfantSEE assessments, which was more patients than were reported from 12 states.

Dr. Frasco and her husband, Dr. Nicky Lai who is also an optometrist, have two children, Charlie, 4 and Andy, 1.

InfantSEE: A Tenth

By Dr. Bill Lay, Chair, Ohio InfantSEE

InfantSEE Banner2One tenth. 10%. It may not seem like a lot. Ohio volunteer doctors do one tenth of all the InfantSEE exams reported in the United States. In 2012, Ohio doctors reported 1,095 InfantSEE exams; a total of 11,451 InfantSEE exams were reported in the country. Throughout the eight-year history of InfantSEE, 97,267 InfantSEE exams were reported by Ohio ODs throughout America. Ohio ODs reported 9,520 InfantSEE exams, I assume Ohio will go over the 10,000 mark for InfantSEE exams in 2013; I also assume the 100,000 mark will be eclipsed in the United States.

Thank you, InfantSEE volunteers. We can do more – educate more parents, inform more relevant parties like nurse practitioners and pre-school teachers, examine more babies. In our practice – Professional Vision Care of Westerville and Johnstown – we do the following:

  • Host free seminars for moms to educate them about the importance of baby vision exams.
  • Tell mother for father in the exam chair who are expecting or recently had a baby about InfantSEE – they are often amazed that we can even examine an infant.
  • Give baby packets to new or expecting parents that include information about stages of vision development, information about infant exams, tips for parents on things they can do.

Be proactive in recruiting within your own patient base. You will expand your clinical skills and fill your exam slots with excitement.

InfantSEE Announces Award

AOA_InfantSEE_Healthy Mom  Baby_ad_banner

Seeing babies before one year of age and keeping Ohio’s InfantSEE program front-of-mind for parents and others involved with babies are major efforts of Ohio InfantSEE volunteers. Receiving a report that their baby has a well-functioning visual system is a wonderful assurance for a parent. InfantSEE providers also have the privilege to see those who need extra testing, remediation of an eye disease or spectacles that will affect the baby’s quality of life. 2013-03-02 11.24.36

The OOA has created an award to honor the Ohio doctor who submits the most InfantSEE on-line reports from January 1 through August 31, 2013. The on-line reports may be accessed at http://www.infantsee.org. Every time you complete an InfantSEE assessment, submit a report online. Even though Ohio leads the nation in doctors participating and infant exams, our goal is to reward the doctor who gives the most to this public health service. Thank you to all InfantSEE doctors for, as Urban Meyer would say, “Making the great State of Ohio proud!”

Visit www.InfantSEE.org to sign up to become an InfantSEE volunteer, to make sure your listing is correct, to access on-line reporting forms or for other information about InfantSEE.

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InfantSEE Week is May 13-18, 2013. Contact your zone coordinator for more information on events for the week.

InfantSEE Helps Pediatric Focus of Practice

by Dr. Cara Frasco

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I signed up to be an InfantSEE provider when the program started in 2005. I had finished my residency in Pediatric Optometry one year prior. InfantSEE examinations were a logical way to help grow the pediatric focus of my practice and promote the importance of lifelong eye care.

The InfantSEE assessment allows me to identify children at risk for visual problems and intervene before severe impairment develops. I am able to follow-up on these babies between 3 and 4 years of age to make sure their eyes are free of amblyopia and strabismus.

InfantSEE 3

InfantSEE examinations have also helped to strengthen the relationship I have with my local pediatricians. I send a letter to every baby’s pediatrician informing them about the InfantSEE program and of my findings. Now almost eight years later, several pediatricians have recognized the value of InfantSEE and recommend an InfantSEE examination to parents during the child’s 9-month well-visit.

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InfantSEE Week is May 13-18, 2013. Make sure you know the events for the week – contact your zone coordinator for more information.

Congratulations to Dr. Frasco who practices in Springboro and Middletown. She submitted the most InfantSEE forms online in 2012 of any doctor in the United States. Doctors are asked to submit online a form for each InfantSEE exam they complete. The forms can be accessed at http://www.infantsee.org. There will be a special recognition for the Ohio doctor who submits the most forms in 2013; in addition, doctors who submit 25 forms online before September 1, 2013 are eligible for complimentary registration to the EastWest Eye Conference.

InfantSEE Announces Award

InfantSee

Seeing babies before one year of age and keeping Ohio’s InfantSEE program front-of-mind for parents and others involved with babies are major efforts of Ohio InfantSEE volunteers. Receiving a report that their baby has a well-functioning visual system is a wonderful assurance for a parent. InfantSEE providers also have the privilege to see those who need extra testing, remediation of an eye disease or spectacles that will affect the baby’s quality of life.

The OOA has created an award to honor the Ohio doctor who submits the most InfantSEE on-line reports from January 1 through August 31, 2013. The on-line reports may be accessed at http://www.infantsee.org. Every time you complete an InfantSEE assessment, submit a report online. Even though Ohio leads the nation in doctors participating and infant exams, our goal is to reward the doctor who gives the most to this public health service. Thank you to all InfantSEE doctors for, as Urban Meyer would say, “Making the great State of Ohio proud!” Visit www.InfantSEE.org to sign up to become an InfantSEE volunteer, to make sure your listing is correct, to access on-line reporting forms or for other information about InfantSEE.