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ND Optometrists Partner With U.S. Sens. Conrad and Dorgan, Rep. Pomeroy and Gov. Hoeven in Improving Infant Eye and Vision Care

BISMARCK, N.D., Feb. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Due to the overwhelming number of children with eye and vision problems across the United States, Bismarck and surrounding area optometrists are devoting appointments to no-cost, comprehensive eye and vision assessments for infants between six to 12 months of age through InfantSEE(R). InfantSEE(R), a public health program developed by the American Optometric Association (AOA) in partnership with The Vision Care Institute(TM), LLC a Johnson & Johnson company, was designed to provide professional eye care for infants nationwide at no-cost, regardless of family income or number of eligible children.

"I can't stress enough the importance of early childhood health screenings," said Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND). "I encourage parents across North Dakota to take advantage of the InfantSEE(R) program. Have your child assessed in order to detect and treat any potential vision problems before they interfere with their learning."

"As parents, we regularly take our children to the dentist to help prevent cavities. Likewise, we should have our children's vision screened at an early age to prevent potential eye and vision problems down the road," said Congressman Earl Pomeroy (D-ND). "I applaud our local optometrists for providing free InfantSEE(R) assessments, and encourage families to take advantage of this useful service."

To encourage parents to take advantage of the InfantSEE(R) program and to help protect infant vision and eye health, Governor John Hoeven has officially declared Monday, February 23 through Friday, February 27 InfantSEE(R) Week in the state of North Dakota.

"Protecting infant vision and eye health is an integral part of North Dakota's commitment to the health and wellness of our children," Hoeven said. "I commend the North Dakota Optometric Association and optometrists across the state for providing this important program to North Dakota families."

One in 10 children are at risk from undiagnosed eye and vision problems, which, if undetected, could lead to permanent vision impairment, and in rare cases, life-threatening health risks. However, only 14 percent of children from infancy to age six have had a comprehensive eye assessment from an eye care professional. In Bismarck and surrounding areas, great strides are being made to ensure that potential eye and vision problems are detected early. Infant eye assessments have been available in North Dakota since the InfantSEE(R) program launched in 2005.

"Many parents are surprised to learn that the first year of life is one of the most critical stages of a child's visual development," said Dr. Danelle Moch, a Bismarck-area optometrist and InfantSEE(R) provider. "It's the ideal time to detect eye and vision problems before these conditions worsen or cause developmental delays."

The program launched in 2005 with support from former President Jimmy Carter, honorary national chair. Nearly 8,000 optometrists nationwide volunteer their time to provide assessments to babies in their communities. The majority of vision problems detected included retinoblastoma (eye cancer), severe hyperopia (farsightedness), myopia (nearsightedness), congenital glaucoma and congenital cataract.

"As a special education teacher, I know the importance of identifying developmental issues early," said Mary McCarvel-O'Connor, local mother of Illyana. "I encourage all parents to take advantage of the InfantSEE(R) program. I brought my daughter for an InfantSEE(R) assessment when she was six months old and was relieved to find out her vision was healthy."

To continue to improve infant eye assessment rates in Bismarck and surrounding areas, the following eye care providers will offer no-cost InfantSEE(R) eye assessments from February 23 to 27, by appointment:

    Dr. Brian C. Beattie
    Dr. Eve L. Kostelecky
    2331 Tyler Park Suite 2

    Dr. Shanon S. Bencker
    738 Kirkwood Mall

    Dr. Thomas L. Deis
    Dr. Keith L. Schindler
    204 West Century Ave.

    Dr. Todd A. Kelsch
    210 West Front Ave.

    Dr. Danelle F. Moch
    1221 West Divide Ave., Suite 1

    Dr. Taya M. Patzman
    2821 Rock Island Place

    Dr. Thomas J. Samson
    200 South 5th Street

    Dr. Tim Tello
    1221 West Divide Ave. Ste. 1

    Dr. James A. Helmers
    Dr. John N. Helmers
    Dr. Daniel J. Long
    113 3rd Ave. NW

    Dr. Daniel C. Little
    Dr. Terry Schmidt
    107 6th Ave. NW

    Dr. Paul Dunderland
    522 Main Street

    Dr. Kathy M. Hendrickson
    110 9th Ave. South

    Dr. Craig A. Bratvold
    211 4th Street NE, Ste. 1

    Dr. Carey L. Enderle
    Dr. Kyle D. Krein
    Dr. Mark A. Moen
    404 Highway 2 East

    Dr. Nate Shilman
    448 21st Street, Ste. D-1

    Dr. Angela K. Darveaux
    3902 13th Ave. South, Ste. 406

    Dr. Kristin F. Engstrom
    4731 13th Ave. South

    Dr. Shari L. Kensok
    3051 25th Street South #K2

    Dr. Lori Scheel
    1702 South University Drive

    Dr. Michelle K. Carter
    415 Hill Ave.

    Dr. David Biberdorf
    2200 South Washington Street

    Dr. Kari E. Torkelson
    Dr. Jeffery B. Yunker
    2900 South Columbia Rd.

    Dr. Jason Schaff
    2200 South Washington

    Dr. Steve Kourajian
    901 Lincoln Ave.

    Dr. Richard H. Eklof
    324 9th Ave., Ste. 1

    Dr. Corey R. Mairs
    17 11th Ave. West

    Dr. Jason Bradley
    207 South Main Street

    Dr. Bruce A. Moen
    1100 31st Ave. SW, Ste. 2

    Dr. Robert P. Nyre
    10 1st Street SW

    Dr. Geoffrey A. Rath
    409 West Main

    Dr. Dori M. Carlson
    Dr. Mark K. Helgeson
    121 Briggs Ave. North

    Dr. William Welder
    315 North 11th Street, Ste. A

    Dr. Douglas Nordby
    109 5th Street SW

    Dr. Becky McIlonie
    415 34th Street North

InfantSEE(R) assessments are complementary to the routine well-care exams a baby receives from a pediatrician or family physician. Optometrists have the training to identify areas of risk that are critical to vision development and the skills to identify conditions that might not be detected in a routine pediatric wellness exam. In some cases, conditions may need to be monitored, immediately treated or referred to a pediatric eye specialist.

To learn more about InfantSEE(R), visit

About InfantSEE(R)

InfantSEE(R) is a public health program managed by Optometry's Charity(TM) - 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 one eye and vision assessment to infants free-of- charge regardless of socioeconomic status. For more information visit

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. For more information, visit

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.

     Julie Mahoney                       Madonna Duncan
     American Optometric Association     Hill & Knowlton
     (314) 991-4100 x4176                (312) 255-3143         

SOURCE InfantSEE; American Optometric Association
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