No. 8: InfantSEE™ launches with 6,600 ODs on board

April 13, 2013

Editor’s Note: To commemorate 50 years of groundbreaking news in optometry, we are publishing the Top 10 AOA News stories as selected by our readers from all five decades. Please share your commentary and personal stories on the site as well (http://connect.aoa.org).

No. 8 is the President’s Column by Wesley E. Pittman, O.D., from June 2005.

InfantSEE, the largest public health initiative ever undertaken by optometry, officially launched nationwide June 8.

From an idea first stated by W. David Sullins, Jr., O.D., to a multimillion dollar national program, we’ve had unprecedented attention and overwhelming commitment by ODs.

When the House of Delegates last year voted to support InfantSEE, we knew there were milestones that had to be reached: An InfantSEE provider within an hour’s drive of almost all Americans. A major financial sponsor. A prominent spokesperson. A Web site and registration infrastructure. A plan for getting the word out to parents.

I’m pleased to report that, to put it bluntly, we have our ducks in a row:

  • There are 6,600 optometrists who have signed up as InfantSEE providers.
  • To date, 25 states have enrolled more than 40 percent of their AOA members. Seven have reached 30-39 percent and eight have reached 20-29 percent.
  • On June 8, we launched InfantSEE with a series of media events, including honorary chair President Jimmy Carter and program chair Scott Jens, O.D., on the NBC Today Show, and in USA Today. Andrea Thau, O.D., appeared via satellite on over a dozen television and radio stations.
  • The Vision Care Institute of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc. has committed resources and considerable financial support to the program, and we are working with BabyCenter.com, another J&J company and a tremendous resource for new parents.
  • President Jimmy Carter has fulfilled his promise to speak publicly on behalf of InfantSEE, appearing on the Today show and filming two public service announcements that can be accessed from the InfantSEE Web site.
  • Speaking of http://www.InfantSEE.org, the new Web site serves as an easy entree for parents, with helpful information for parents about children’s vision, as well as details about the program. Parents and caregivers can easily locate an InfantSEE provider in their community through the site’s Dr. Locator.

Our InfantSEE program launch comes as there is a growing awareness of the importance of eye exams for children.

In this issue of AOA News, there is coverage of the CDC’s 2002 National Health Interview Survey. Among children younger than 6 years, only 36.3 percent were reported to have ever had their vision tested, and just 7.4 percent had visited an eye care provider during the preceding year. This is a huge lapse in our health care system, and AOA, through InfantSEETM, can address it.

Meanwhile in Congress, H.R. 2238, the Children’s Vision Improvement and Learning Readiness Act of 2005, is moving forward thanks to Reps. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL).

These are exciting times, as we begin a program that could change the way a generation sees.

Optometry is fulfilling its role as the primary eye care profession in a way that will improve peoples’ lives.

If you’ve signed up as an InfantSEETM provider, thank you.

If you haven’t, NOW IS THE TIME. The public launch is only the beginning. As the program grows, we will need more providers to ensure that every parent in America has access to quality eye and vision care for his or her child.

This program will make all of us proud of our profession. As president of AOA, it has been my pleasure to see optometry come together for such a noble cause.

Wesley E. Pittman, O.D.

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