New, Free Program Allows Infants to Visit Optometrists

New, Free Program Allows Infants to Visit Optometrists

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Kim Johnson ReportingWhile most infants get their eyes checked at least once by their pediatrician in the first year of life, most are not checked by an eye doctor. A screening program unveiled today could help identify serious eye problems that might otherwise go undetected, and it's free.

A few years ago former President Jimmy Carter issued a challenge to the nation's optometrists to come up with an infant eye screening program that wouldn't cost parents or the government any money. They did just that. They call it "InfantSEE".

New, Free Program Allows Infants to Visit Optometrists

Dr. Karrie Buresh is one of the optometrists participating in infant see. That means she will now offer comprehensive eye exams to babies under a year of age at no charge. She says even though babies can't talk, their eyes tell a great deal.

Karri Buresh O.D.: "It's crucial that those eyes are working together well as a team. That that child is able to see clearly, and track and focus and use those reading eye movements."

Dr. Buresh says with early detection doctors have more options for treatment and better results. But, she says, disease or subtle vision problems that could impair a child's learning often go undetected for years.

Dr. Karri Buresh: "Let's say one eye is much weaker than the other, and that child is going to start relying on their good eye, so to speak, to see clearly. And often parents or even pediatricians won't notice this unless you test one eye at a time."

For the last year Dr. Buresh, along with Doctor Judkins, has been recruiting other optometrists to give their time to Infant See. He says they were second in the country to meet their recruiting goals.

Michael Judkins O.D.: "Very positive reaction. We've got optometrists from all over the state, not just along the Wasatch Front, that have responded very well to this."

The honorary chair of InfantSEE, Former President Jimmy Carter, whose two grandchildren suffered with ambliopia, or lazy eye, is grateful.

Jimmy Carter, Honorary Chair, Infant See: "I think every parent in America ought to have a debt of gratitude to the optometrists who've been willing to donate their time free."

President Carter appeared on the Today Show this morning. The earliest your baby can get this screening is six months.

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