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April 30, 2013

UEC Partners with InfantSEE to Promote Pediatric Vision Care

    Dr. Ida Chung, chief of the UEC's pediatric unit, with Dr. Glen Steele, founder of InfantSEE
      
 

For much of the last decade InfantSEE, a public health program managed by Optometry Cares, the philanthropic arm of the American Optometric Association (AOA), has determinedly worked to help make eye and vision care an essential part of infant wellness. Through the program, participating optometrists provide a no-cost, comprehensive assessment to any infant between 6 and 12 months. According to Dr. Ida Chung, chief of the pediatric unit at the University Eye Center (UEC) and one of the organizers of a series of events at SUNY on April 26 designed to promote the program, the UEC has been a strong partner in the InfantSEE program since its inception in 2005. More broadly, Dr. Richard Soden, executive director of the UEC, estimates that the clinic has examined up to one million children during its more-than-four-decades of service to the community. Pediatric services are indeed a major component of the care that is regularly provided at the UEC today.

These two unique events, conducted as part of a four-year, Allergan Foundation-supported campaign to promote InfantSEE at the nation’s schools and colleges of optometry, were organized by members of the SUNY community in conjunction with InfantSEE and the AOA and held at the College’s Schwarz Theatre. A morning panel discussion, which was open to the public and attended by various health care providers, parents and caregivers from throughout the New York City region, focused on the importance of vision and vision-related issues during an infant’s development. InfantSEE founder Dr. Glen Steele, a professor of pediatric optometry at the Southern College of Optometry, began the discussion by highlighting the results of the program to date.

“InfantSEE is about changing lives,” Dr. Steele said, noting that in recent years the program has helped to reveal the startling fact that about one in six infants—and one in four minority infants—show signs of having some sort of eye-related issue.

Many of these issues, however, are able to be successfully treated while the child is still very young. Tim Angerame, a father of triplets from New Jersey who also participated on the panel, discussed how two of his three children had early eye issues that were diagnosed through InfantSEE assessments and ultimately treated by Dr. Andrea Thau, a fellow panelists and an associate professor at SUNY who also runs a successful midtown Manhattan practice. Dr. Thau is a passionate supporter of the program and of pediatric vision care in general.

 Dr. Chung provided pediatric-related statistics from the UEC to help better illustrate the kinds of issues that the clinic has been diagnosing and treating in children in recent years. And Dr. Jennifer Cross, a pediatrician from New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, also participated on the panel and reinforced the notion that optometrists—along with pediatricians, dentists and other health care professionals—are integral members of the team of care givers that all children should have as they grow.

Rounding out the panelists was actor, singer, entertainer and author Tom Sullivan, a tireless supporter of the InfantSEE program who has been traveling with Dr. Steele to help promote the program, particularly to students at the schools and colleges of optometry across the United States. In the afternoon of April 26 Sullivan performed his unique program of songs and inspirational and often humorous recollections of his childhood growing up visually impaired.