Detecting vision problems in infants

By Britney Glaser - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Ten percent of children have undiagnosed vision problems and if left untreated, the damage could be permanent. Now, there's a no-cost partnership offering comprehensive eye exams to infants in Southwest Louisiana.

One-year-old Annie is about as happy as a baby could be. But because she can't speak up if she's having a vision problem, that step has to be taken by her mom, Hope Savoie.  "I wanted to make sure her eyes are fine," says Hope, "because she's gonna go to school later on in life and I just want to be sure to keep her from learning disabilities that could develop with poor vision."

Many parents are surprised to learn that visual development is most dramatic between six and 12 months of age.  That's why Dr. Robert Janot is volunteering his time along with other local optometrists to offer free vision screenings through InfantSEE.  "We test the baby's tracking abilities, their eye alignment, we also check the eye health, muscle balance and for any undetected vision error," says Dr. Janot.

Aboard the VSP InfantSEE mobile clinic, Annie is getting a comprehensive exam that only takes about 15 minutes, but will give her mom the peace of mind in knowing her daughter is on the right developmental track.  "They've done the paddle drill to see if she would follow and the little lights and then they dilated her eyes," says Hope.

In Louisiana, only 14 percent of children from infancy to age six have had a comprehensive eye check.  "Ideally we recommend that an infant have their first eye exam from six months to one year of age," says Dr. Janot, "and then as recommended thereafter"

The key is preventing eye problems from becoming a problem for years to come. For Hope, who has a family history of vision problems, early detection is her goal.  "If you can catch it early, it's better," she says, "because with my paw-paw, they didn't catch his problem early and he's been having problems ever since."

So, just as you take your little one to the dentist or pediatrician for annual check-ups, remember to put vision care on the checklist as well.

*The partnership for free infant eye exams lasts through this Friday, August 14th.  Click here to learn more about the program and to find out what optometrists are participating locally.

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