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 Chicago 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 Illinois 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. Pamela Lowe, a Chicago-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. A lifetime of healthy vision begins in the first year of life."
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 parent, one of my biggest concerns is making sure my child's development is on track," said Patricia Rios, local mother of Noah, now age 3. "When my son was a baby and I learned about the InfantSEE(R) program, it was an obvious decision to take Noah for an assessment. When the doctors gave his eyes a clean bill of health, it really put my mind at ease."
To continue to improve infant eye assessment rates in Chicago and surrounding areas, the following eye care providers will offer no-cost InfantSEE(R) eye assessments fro
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