Before learning to speak, an infant communicates through gestures, noises, and facial expressions. Ten-month-old Piper Verdusco was no different as she fidgeted and danced around in her seat; that is, until a pair of glasses opened her eyes. Not only was she calm and attentive, but beaming with joy as she looked from parent to parent for the first time.
Piper is one of more than 120,000 babies who experienced this life-changing moment as part of Optometry Cares – The AOA Foundation’s InfantSEE program. As the AOA’s first public health program for infants, InfantSEE celebrated its 10th anniversary this year at Optometry’s Meeting.
This program serves to provide free comprehensive infant eye assessments to infants between 6 and 12 months. Throughout the nation, more than 7,000 optometrists participate in this program and have helped recreate Piper’s moment of clarity more than 40 million times.
Even as students we can still work to support InfantSEE’s initiatives:
1) Educate your colleagues. Through partnering with the Allergan Foundation, the InfantSEE Student Program is touring optometry schools to create more awareness, bringing with it opportunities to hear personal stories about vision’s role in childhood development. If you are interested, reach out to Optometry Cares about bringing the student program to your school.
2) Work with kids yourself. Community outreach is a great way for you to interact with both children and their parents. While our experiences are limited as students to screenings and other evaluations, you can still get a taste of what your experience might be like as an InfantSEE provider.
3) Help spread the knowledge. At its core, InfantSEE strives to educate the public on the importance of infant eye exams to ensure that a child is able to grow and develop in the best possible setting. Don’t underestimate the efficacy of word of mouth and spread the word to your family, neighbors, and even your own local optometrist!
With graduation in the near future, our opportunity to help recreate Piper’s excitement and enthusiasm for other young infants will be only a click away. The better question to ask yourself, though, is how will YOU help infants see?