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Parent Survival Guide: Free infant vision screening program

Updated: Feb. 15, 2021 at 1:26 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - According to the American Optometric Association, infants need to have their first comprehensive eye exam before they turn one.

At birth babies start to explore the world around them and objects and people with their eyes.

Draisin Vision Optometrist Dr. Jennifer Zolman says poor eyesight in infants can affect not only a child’s development but important milestones too.

”80 percent of what we learn is through our eyes and vision and that time period between 6 to 12 months is a critical period in development and really achieving all of those important foundational milestones,” Zolman said.

The American Optometric Association says 85% of preschoolers don’t receive their first eye exam until age five.

To change this a public health program called InfantSee was formed.

InfantSee says they were designed to give parents a free opportunity to get their infants between the ages of 6 and 12 months a comprehensive infant eye assessment. They say they want to provide this service with any participating eye doctor regardless of income or access to insurance coverage.

Parent Tara Akers says because vision problems started affecting her vision as a little girl getting the infantSee exam for her son James was a natural choice.

Akers says, ”It helps your child and its free and it doesn’t take a lot of time and they make it fun for the child,”

The exam can take between 20 and 30 minutes and Dr. Zolman says it is looking for near sightedness and far sightedness, astigmatisms, tracks the babies eye movements, and looks at their reflexes and overall eye health.

”We’re looking for major eye health problems a major one is retinoblastoma which is a cancer found in infants and this has been detected through these eye exams so this is something that can save a babies life if detected early,” Zolman said.

”So its very important for me to monitor his vision and I will keep bringing him every year to make sure we’re keeping up with that,” Zolman said.

InfantSee says parents can find a participating Optometrist and schedule a free InfantSee Eye exam for their baby by going to their website.

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