A. There are tens of thousands of legally blind children in the United States. One in 10 children is at risk from undiagnosed eye problems that could lead to blindness. Only 14 percent of children under age six have had a comprehensive eye exam. Children's Eye Health and Safety Month is dedicated to increasing awareness of the importance of proper eye care. As children head back to school in September, it's important that they have the vision ability necessary to learn.
Q. What have you done to increase access to eye care for Iowa's children?
A. Congress appropriates funding for vision research through the National Eye Institute, which is one of the institutes within the National Institutes of Health. The National Institutes of Health have played a crucial role in improving the nation's health for more than a century by investigating ways to prevent disease as well as the causes, treatments, and even cures for common and rare diseases.
I have also spoken out in support of InfantSEE, a nationwide public health program developed by the American Optometric Association and The Vision Care Institute part of Johnson & Johnson to provide free professional eye care to infants between six and 12 months old. The first 12 months of a child's life are the most critical for vision development, according to experts.
Early detection can make all the difference when it comes to eye health. I encourage all parents to take advantage of this free public service and have their infants screened for potential vision problems. Taking children to the doctor regularly promotes wellness and can help detect and prevent serious health issues.
Q. How can I take advantage of InfantSEE?
A. There are more than 200 Iowa optometrists offering free comprehensive eye exams through the InfantSEE program. To find an InfantSEE provider in your area, please go to www.infantsee.org/.