InfantSEE program detects vision problems early

 Not only is InfantSEE a wonderful, free and potentially life- and vision-saving program, early on I got to see it possibly save the vision of a little guy I am very fond of…


Jane Drummond: Program can detect vision problems early

Jane Drummond is a parent educator for the Carthage School District.

One of our jobs in Parents as Teachers is to have a huge resource network to refer our families to. One of the programs I always try to tell all of my parents of children from birth to one year old about is the InfantSEE program. Not only is it a wonderful, free and potentially life- and vision-saving program, early on I got to see it possibly save the vision of a little guy I am very fond of.

I have seen Sharon and Travis Comeau’s son, Carson, since he was born, and I left them with the little referral card to get a free InfantSEE vision exam. The next month when I went back to see Carson, he was in a thick pair of glasses … and surprisingly to me, as a baby he was leaving them on! Sharon gave me permission to share their story because if Carson’s vision problem had not been caught early, his vision could have been threatened and his problems would have been much, much greater.
Anyone nationwide with a baby younger than 1 can schedule an InfantSEE exam. The exams can be performed on kids beginning at 6 months up to 12 months. Even if you have vision insurance, it will not be billed for this full examination. Here in Missouri, about half of all optometrists provide this service. Dr. Gregory Goetzinger, of Carthage Vision Clinic (who also just completed his term as president of the Missouri Optometric Association), wishes all doctors would provide the service. He usually sees at least two babies through the program a week, and although most babies pass their exams with flying colors, the ones he catches reap huge benefits of early intervention, as the first year of life is one if the most critical stages in visual development.
Dr. Goetzinger is surprised himself at the number of issues that he has caught, including lazy eye, muscle imbalances, ocular diseases, blocked tear ducts and significant refractive deficits, requiring early intervention with glasses. The screening can also detect life-threatening retinoblastoma, the seventh leading childhood cancer. He also shares that approximately 80 percent of all children with learning delays have a vision disorder. One in every 10 children is at risk from undiagnosed vision problems, yet only 13 percent of mothers with children younger than 2 have taken their children to an optometrist for a vision screening. Now there is no excuse. InfantSEE is totally free, regardless of income.
During your InfantSEE assessment, you hold your infant and the doctor will use lights and other hand-held objects to make sure the baby’s eyes are working together and that the eyes look healthy. The doctor may also use drops or spray to dilate the baby’s pupils to get a better look inside and insure the health of the eyes. The procedure is quick and painless.
The program is promoted nationally through its national spokespeople, former President Jimmy and First Lady Rosalynn Carter, in honor of two of their grandchildren who suffer from vision problems that were not detected as early as they could have been. Their granddaughter was diagnosed and treated as a toddler for amblyopia (lazy eye). A leading cause of vision loss in people under 45, amblyopia will affect one in 30 children. Their grandson’s condition was not diagnosed until grade school and his vision may never be fully corrected. Dr. Goetzinger says early detection is the absolute key to the possibility of the most effective treatment.
There are many optometrists in the area who provide the service. In Carthage, besides Goetzinger, there is Dr. Michelle Pyle. In Joplin, there is Dr. Justin Stilley, Dr. David Coleman and Dr. Lorry Lazenby. For a complete listing of providers in the areas surrounding Joplin and much more information, log onto or call (888) 396-EYES.
Special thanks goes to Dr. Goetzinger for helping with this article.