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InfantSEE Pediatric Vision Education and Screening

Show Summary - July 6, 2009


Sharon welcomed the listeners and talked about the importance of water in life and life in water. She said that it is imperative for everyone to realize the importance of water, to drink plenty of water and to carry water with them if they are unsure of a water source. Dehydration, or lack of water, is out of control in our world and causes or contributes to ailments from allergies to obesity.

Guest: Glenn Steele, OD

Glenn Steele, OD (Memphis, TN), American Academy of Optometry InfantSEE program. "The National Launch of InfantSEE."

Glenn Steele is an optometrist representing the American Academy of Optometry's InfantSee program, and a Professor at the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis. InfantSee receives major funding from Johnson and Johnson. The program provides free vision and eye screening for children under one year old. There are 8,000 volunteer doctors in the U.S. that participate in the program.

Sharon noted that one infant in 250 is born with a cataract and there is a glaring lack of education of parents on childhood visual health and development. Some hospitals give eye exams to newborns but not all.

Even though the need is great at all economic levels, InfantSEE tends to focus on the poorest people and on specific high risk communities where the need is greatest (although President Carter had two grandchildren with vision problems first detected in a school screening). The goal is to provide a free examination to every child at age three months and six months, and to educate parents in the process.

At age three months, babies start to separate the senses. Before that, the senses all sort of blend together in their perception. To separate the senses, all senses must be functioning properly. Eyes more than anything connect the baby to the people and world around them. Eventually, the eyes are able to anticipate the other senses (you can often tell by looking at something if its hard or soft, hot or cold) and this can be critical in physical coordination and intelligence.

Emotional and behavioral problems could be caused in part by early vision problems. Vision problem can affect walking, hand-eye coordination and other developmental areas. Vision could also be a factor in attention deficit disorder. The link between vision and emotional development is not well established but there is some correlation in early findings.

The factors causing amblyopia (lazy eye) are there from birth, even though the condition may not manifest until age 3.

A parent can evaluate a child's vision by observing how it tracks objects and responds to visual stimulation.

Computer and TV use should be minimal up to age three, then carefully monitored by parents. Children engaged in these activities tend to blink far less (three to four time a minute as opposed to 20 times a minute), which can lead to dry eye problems. Children (and adults) should take a break at least once very 15 minutes.

In short, start early, observe your baby closely and don't assume everything is OK.

Categories: Eye care and dry eye; international health organizations; 2009