Local doctors work to combat life-long vision problems in infants

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - One in 10 infants is at risk of undetected vision impairments that could lead to life-threatening health risks, according to the American Optometric Association.

Local doctors are working to combat life-long vision problems by providing free eye and vision assessments to infants in Region 8.

Optometrists Courtney and Matthew Hoffman are two of more than 60 eye care providers in Arkansas who are participating in InfantSEE®, a national public health program sponsored by the American Optometric Association. "Parents are encouraged to bring their babies between the ages of six and 12 months to an InfantSEE® provider."

The eye exam is free of charge. "There are no qualifications.  It doesn't matter what kind of income you have," Courtney Hoffman said. "

Anna Treece wants to make sure her 7-month-old daughter doesn't see life through blurred vision.  "We as parents are usually really good about taking our children to the pediatrician for their regular physical check-ups, but we often neglect eye exams."

Dr. Matthew Hoffman encourages parents to schedule appointments regardless of whether children complain of poor vision. "Kids think that everybody sees like they do.  So, if they're having trouble seeing, most of the time they won't mention it because they assume that everyone sees what they do."

The exams are generally 20-minute assessments that test for nearsightedness or farsightedness, eye coordination and overall eye health. "We're looking for anything that's going to hinder healthy ocular development or healthy vision development in the infant."

According to the American Pediatrics Association the first year of life is one of the most critical stages of infant development. Infants who are regularly examined are at a lower risk of developing vision impairments such as amblyopia (lazy eye) and muscle imbalances.

"So many of the eye conditions that we are discovering when a child starts school are certainly present when the child is an infant.  If it's corrected when they're young, you can avoid a lifetime of damaged vision."

There are more than 60 InfantSEE® providers located throughout the entire state, below are doctors in Region 8.

Participating Region 8 Eye Care Providers

Jonesboro

Dr. Courtney Hoffman

800 Professional Acres Blvd.

Jonesboro, AR 72401

(870) 972-5540

Dr. Matthew Hoffman

800 Professional Acres Blvd.

Jonesboro, AR 72401

(870) 972-5540

Dr. Christy Michelle Neeley

1817 Executive Square

Jonesboro, AR 72401

(870) 930-9200

Piggott

Dr. Elizabeth Kilgore

325 W. Jackson

Piggott, AR 72454

(870) 598-2625

Pocahontas

Dr. Amy Tolbert

204 N. Thomasville Ave.

Pocahontas, AR 72455

(870) 892-9169

To find an InfantSEE® optometrist in your area, visit www.InfantSEE.org or to call toll free 888-396-EYES (3937).

Copyright KAIT 2011. All rights reserved.