Dr. Gary Veronneau, coordinator of InfantSEE in WV, presented information to pediatricians and optometrists in the Parkersburg area during the recent meeting in Parkersburg to raise awareness of the importance of vision screenings.

Due to the overwhelming number of children with eye and vision problems across the United States, West Virginia optometrists are donating no-cost, comprehensive eye and vision assessments for infants between six and 12 months of age through InfantSEE.

InfantSEE is a public health initiative by the West Virginia Association of Optometric Physicians (WVAOP) in cooperation with the American Optometric Association (AOA) first sponsored by the late Senator Robert C Byrd. The InfantSee program is designed to provide professional vision assessments for infants nationwide at no-cost, regardless of family income. Find participating doctors in your area by calling the toll free number 1-888-396-EYES, or visiting www.infantsee.org

"Many parents are surprised to learn the first year of life is the most critical stage of a child's visual development," said Dr. Veronneau. "This is the ideal time to detect eye and vision problems before these conditions worsen or cause developmental delays.

Amblyopia ("lazy eye") is the leading cause of visual disability in the under 20 age group. However it is treatable, especially when identified early." Helen Wilson, regional coordinator of West Virginia Birth to Three in Parkersburg said, "This is when early intervention becomes so vital for the child and one of the reasons that InfantSee is partnering with West Virginia Birth to Three.

West Virginia Birth to Three provides services for children under the age of 3 who either have a delay in one of more areas of development, or may be at risk for having delays in the future. InfantSee and WV Birth to Three provide services for infants and toddlers making the two programs a natural match."

One in 10 children are at risk due to undiagnosed eye and vision conditions, which, if undetected, could lead to permanent vision impairment, and in rare cases, are life threatening. However, only 14% of children from infancy to age six have had a comprehensive eye assessment. Infant eye assessments have been available to West Virginia residents since The InfantSee program launched in 2005 with support from former President Jimmy Carter, honorary national chair.

The majority of vision conditions detected included retinoblastoma (eye cancer), severe hyperopia (farsightedness), myopia (nearsightedness), congenital glaucoma and congenital cataract.

There are 76 optometrists throughout the state of WV and 8000 optometrists nationwide participate in the InfantSEE program. The InfantSEE evaluation is provided at no charge to the patient and is not billed to any insurance company! InfantSEE is a true public health initiative designed to ensure our children will start life with good vision.

For more information call the toll free number for InfantSEE 1-888-396-EYES (3937) to find a participating doctor in your area. You can get more information about the InfantSEE program by logging on to www.infantsee.org

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