InfantSEE® program heartens aspiring ODs
Award-winning actor, author and composer Tom Sullivan—blind from an early age—speaks during the Allergan Foundation-sponsored InfantSEE ® presentation at the University of Incarnate Word on Sept. 26.
'Passion begets passion' is the optimal phrase for how an InfantSEE® series at several optometry schools looked to spark a fervor for pediatric eye care.
"We're igniting a fire and passion for the profession at a very early stage in the game."
A student, faculty and community-focused forum, the InfantSEE Student Program seeks to promote and expand the children's eye care program among the profession's future and surrounding communities.
Through an ongoing partnership with the Allergan Foundation, the InfantSEE Student Program has already reached thousands of students nationwide since 2012, and continued its speaker series this past fall with four new institutions, including:
- Salus University, Pennsylvania College of Optometry
- Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry
- University of the Incarnate Word, Rosenberg School of Optometry
- New England College of Optometry
Offering both clinical and anecdotal evidence to the efficacy of infant wellness, the forums featured presentations from InfantSEE Committee Chair Glen Steele, O.D., and personal stories of vision's role in childhood development from entertainer Tom Sullivan, author Robin Benoit and others.
Yin Tea, O.D., chief of pediatrics and binocular vision science at Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry, says the personal accounts deeply moved the audience and instilled a sense of pride that students are entering a profession that makes a profound difference.
"Even a second-year student said, 'This is exactly what I was looking for.' Somebody who obviously had been searching for almost a year and a half about her role in the profession felt like she had found a missing piece of the puzzle," Dr. Tea says.
"Students started asking how they can join and be involved, and we encouraged them to be an advocate until they become a member and eye care provider themselves."
Dr. Tea says she's very appreciative of Allergan and collaborators in offering programs such as this, because it helps students gain perspective and motivation.
"If a student graduates as a doctor who's brilliantly trained but doesn't have a sense of the importance and meaningfulness of being a caring doctor, then it's almost moot," Dr. Tea says. "So we're igniting a fire and passion for the profession at a very early stage in the game."
Getting involved with a worthwhile cause
The InfantSEE Student Program not only reached inside the confines of academia, but also into the schools' surrounding communities to educate the public about the importance of children's eye care.
Alex Balderas, a police officer in San Antonio, Texas, attended one such presentation. Having no preconceived notions, Balderas was "in awe of the information brought forth."
"I pledge to outreach on behalf of InfantSEE to the people I serve in my community," he says. "Thank you to all the ODs who have chosen to help people of all ages, improving quality of life by preserving eyesight."
Ida Chung, O.D., AOA InfantSEE Committee member, says InfantSEE's importance in educating the public about early eye exams has been a consistent message by the AOA representing ODs.
"I know those whose lives were touched will give back by serving all those infants who would otherwise not receive the early vision care they so deserve," Dr. Chung says.
Click here to learn more about becoming an InfantSEE provider, and click here to support InfantSEE with a donation through Optometry Cares®—The AOA Foundation.