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2007 InfantSEE(R) Data Magnifies the Need for Early Eye and Vision Screenings for Infants, According to American Optometric Association
Date:10/26/2007

Overall Need for Concern Increases to One in Nine Infants, Especially in

Premature and Minority Babies

ST. LOUIS, Oct. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Eye assessments from one in nine infants have shown an overall need for concern, according to new data collected by the American Optometric Association (AOA) via 10,000 InfantSEE(R) assessments conducted during 2006 and 2007. The overall need for concern has increased from one in 14 last year and clearly reveals a growing need for early vision examination in infants.

The data also showed that the two groups at greatest risk for abnormal prescription status were those born prematurely and those from ethnic minority backgrounds.

InfantSEE(R), a public health program developed by the AOA in partnership with The Vision Care Institute of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc., was designed to provide professional eye care for infants nationwide at no cost regardless of family income. The program launched in 2005 with support from former President Jimmy Carter, honorary national chair and spokesman. To date an estimated 125,000 to 150,000 babies have had their eye health and vision assessed.

"These results magnify the growing need for early eye and vision assessments for infants, particularly in premature and minority babies," said Scott Jens, O.D., F.A.A.O. and InfantSEE(R) chairman. "InfantSEE is growing to meet that need, and I encourage all parents to take their babies to any of the more than 7,600 optometrists nationwide who provide InfantSEE assessments to detect the risk for potential eye and vision problems."

According to this year's data the majority of vision problems detected include retinoblastoma (eye cancer), severe hyperopia (farsightedness), myopia (nearsightedness), congenital glaucoma and congenital cataract.

Public health experts agree that visual development is most dramatic between 6 and 12 months of age and that early detection can prevent and help reduce the threat of serious vision impairments. In fact, one in every 10 children is at risk from undiagnosed eye and vision problems.

InfantSEE(R) assessments are complementary to the routine well-care exams a baby receives from a pediatrician or family physician. Infants have long received eye screenings for strabismus and leukocoria from their trusted pediatricians as part of a full well-care check-up to detect a host of large- scope health problems. Many cases of successful intervention have resulted from this process. However, optometrists have the time to perform a comprehensive eye and vision assessment, the instrumentation to identify areas of risk that are critical to a child's vision development and the skills to identify conditions that might not be detected in a routine pediatric wellness exam and that may need to be monitored, immediately treated or referred to a pediatric eye specialist. InfantSEE(R) aims to detect more subtle problems earlier, so infants can be managed by optometrists, ophthalmologists or other medical specialists as necessary.

Although infants cannot respond verbally, the first year of life is an ideal time to conduct an extensive eye assessment. Not only is this a critical time for eye and vision development, but generally children at this age do not yet fear doctor visits and find the assessment painless and often enjoyable. Typically, infants sit on their parent's lap during the assessment, in which the optometrist uses lights and other hand-held objects to check that their eyes are working together and that there are no significant refractive or health issues that will impede proper vision development.

To learn more about InfantSEE(R), visit http://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 34,000 doctors of optometry, optometry students and paraoptometric assistants and technicians in nearly 6,500 communities across the country. For more information, visit http://www.aoa.org.

About The Vision Care Institute

The Vision Care Institute of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care Inc. is an innovative educational resource created to prepare optometry students for a successful transition into the real world of delivering quality eye care, as well as to assist practicing Eye Care Professionals in the growth and development of their practice. The state-of-the-art facility gives participants a rare opportunity to gain first-hand experience with the latest in vision diagnostic and treatment technologies through hands-on contact lens instruction. Besides clinical training, participants also concentrate on communication skills. The curriculum, taught by leading eye care practitioners from around the country, gives participants the skills and confidence necessary to excel in today's professional practice. The Vision Care Institute has hosted students from all 19 of the schools and colleges of optometry throughout North America at its headquarters in Jacksonville, Florida.


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SOURCE American Optometric Association
Copyright©2007 PR Newswire.
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