Importance of Infant Eye and Vision Care, InfantSEE Program Focus of MCO Community Event

Tom SullivanFerris State University’s Michigan College of Optometry will host “Healthy Beginnings Start with Healthy Eyes,” a community event about the importance of infant eye and vision health, and availability of the free InfantSEE program.

The event will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1 at the Holiday Inn and Conference Center, 1005 Perry St. in Big Rapids. Admission is free, and the public is invited to attend.

“One in 10 children are at risk for undiagnosed eye and vision problems, and with critical stages of vision development occurring in the first year of life, early detection is important to treat and prevent permanent vision impairment,” said Dr. Alison Jenerou, MCO assistant professor. “Through the InfantSEE program, infants six to 12 months of age get a free eye examination allowing for early detection. We hope the ‘Healthy Beginnings’ program will bring community awareness to the importance of vision in a child’s development and the availability locally to have your child’s eyes examined at no charge.”

MCO faculty and students provide complete infant eye examinations at no cost as part of InfantSEE, a public health initiative of the American Optometric Association. Assessments are provided in the Pediatrics and Binocular Vision Service at MCO’s University Eye Center, which serves the West Michigan community.

“Healthy Beginnings Start with Healthy Eyes” will address infant developmental milestones and the vital role vision plays in learning, inspirational patient stories, an overview of the InfantSEE program and how babies’ eyes are examined.

InfantSEETom Sullivan, an Emmy Award-nominated actor, musician, author and motivational speaker, will deliver the keynote address. Sullivan, who lost his vision due to complications from premature birth, is a dedicated advocate for infant eye health.

Sullivan has written for and appeared on numerous television sitcoms, including “Highway to Heaven,” “Designing Women” and “M*A*S*H,” and was a correspondent for ABC’s “Good Morning America.” He most recently created “Superior Beings,” a series for ESPN. He sang the national anthem at Super Bowl X and has written several books, including three he co-authored with his friend, actress Betty White.

Participants also will hear from Dr. Mark Swan, chief of MCO’s Pediatrics and Binocular Vision Service, and Dr. Sushila Rao of Pediatric Associates in Big Rapids. Additionally,  a local woman will discuss how her child’s early diagnosis of a vision problem during an InfantSEE assessment prevented more serious issues.

Vision disorders are the fourth most common disability in the U.S and the most prevalent handicapping condition during childhood, and 25 of children ages 5 to 12 have vision problems that could be interfering with their educational performance, according to statistics provided by the AOA.

The event will include InfantSEE onesies and Baby Banz sunglasses giveaways, and a raffle for a Nexus 7 tablet. For more information, visit the university events calendar here http://calendar.ferris.edu/.

About InfantSEE®

InfantSEE® is a public health program managed by Optometry Cares  – The AOA Foundation. Designed to ensure that eye and vision care become an integral part of infant wellness and improve a child’s quality of life, doctors of optometry provide a one-time, no-cost eye and vision assessment to infants between the ages of six and 12 months regardless of family income or access to insurance coverage. More information: www.InfantSEE.org.

About the American Optometric Association

American Optometric Association doctors of optometry are highly qualified, trained doctors on the frontline of eye health and vision care, who examine, diagnose, treat and manage diseases and disorders of the eye. In addition to providing eye and vision care, optometrists play a major role in an individual’s overall health and well-being by detecting systemic diseases. Doctors of optometry have the skills and training to provide more than two-thirds of all primary eye care in the United States. The American Optometric Association represents more than 36,000 doctors of optometry, optometry students and paraoptometric assistants and technicians in nearly 6,500 communities across the country.  More information: www.aoa.org.

About the Michigan College of Optometry

The Michigan College of Optometry at Ferris State University prepares doctoral and post-doctoral students for successful professional careers, responsible citizenship and lifelong learning. Through its clinically-based education and patient care, the Michigan College of Optometry serves the optometric health care needs of society. It is the only college of optometry in Michigan. More information: www.ferris.edu/mco.

Last updated: 10-24-2013