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InfantSeeTM leaves me scratching my head

on June 21st, 2005 | Filed under Optoblog

Of course I understand that everyone should have an eye exam at ~6 months of age. We should also have one at about age 3 and then every year after. Sure, many adults can reasonably go every 2 years. The goal of the AOA’s InfantSeeTM is that all 6 month olds should have an eye exam, and that eye exam should be free.

What??? Aren’t the practice consultants constantly telling us to value our time, charge fees for the services we provide, be willing to raise fees, and don’t give away exams, low fees or no fee devalues our services and expertise?

If that’s true, why does the AOA expect us all to become InfantSeeTM participators so we can give the whole world a free eye exam at age 6 months? Why stop there? Let’s create another organization to give away free eye exams at age 3, 4, 5,6…115.
Also, if these exams are so darn important, wouldn’t it be reasonable to expect people to pay for the service?

To restate, I’m all for promoting public health issues. Sure, public health problems like an epidemic requiring meds/shots should be sponsored by the government for the greater good of not getting the rest of us sick. In a time of crisis, I’d be happy to volunteer time and resources, but I fail to see why I should give away free eye exams to 6 month olds on a routine basis. They need them anyway, so let the parents pay or use their insurance. If they can find a benefactor to pay-Great! Let me know who foots the bill because I could use a benefactor to pay off my optometry education loans!

If anyone can find a link to what any of the respected optometry practice consultants have said regarding InfantSeeTM I would appreciate it.


2 Responses to “InfantSeeTM leaves me scratching my head”

  1. Scott Jens says:

    Hi David,
    I am sent to your blog by some of my colleagues with whom I am working to establish a very unique practice management system that includes a refined eye care EMR. We hope to talk with you about the possibility of getting you to review the system at an early point to give it your review. But that is not the point of this post… perhaps we can email offline.

    As part of my review of your notes and thoughts, I have read your comments about InfantSEE(TM) and wanted to give you some insight. First, I have been Chair of the InfantSEE developement team. I have been working with a dedicated team of optometrist volunteers who have followed a charge from former Pres. Carter to establish a no cost public health program for infants.

    Fact is, the AOA Clinical Practice Guidelines have been in place for over a decade, and essentially no healthy, non-strabismic infants have been seen at six months for a complete eye and vision examination FOR A FEE. Out of that group, the best estimate from the literature is that 1 in 30 of those infants will end up with amblyopia due to small angle strabismus not detectible by an MD screening or due to significant anisometropia.

    IF there had been a commitment by the optometric and ophthalmologic communities to reinforce the need for these exams, and doctors like us were doing this care already collecting a sizeable fee for our important services, then I’d accept your criticism.

    Fact is, we know of only a handful of ODs nationwide that ever committed to that clinical practice. You and I both know that even exams on 3 and 5 year olds are not being done, particularly for a fee. There’s a reason that SEE TO LEARN has been successful, and that is that doctors don’t see themselves charging for services that they feel are base-level. That’s part of the OD psyche that you point to in your blog.

    So, as a “practice management consultant” myself, and with my view of the value that InfantSEE gives to the public well-being, I will tell you that the time commitment is a reasonable investment. AOA never said that it expected 100% of members to participate. We know that this will only be something that 40 or 50% will want to do.

    If you want to pursue your angle and you feel that charging for six month old exams makes optometry better respected and simultaneously affects public awareness of the need for early and periodic professional eye care, please do that. Our research, including highly qualifed focus groups and reviews of the state of the public awareness, says that ODs who participate will be respected for their service and will at very least create a more educated populace than has ever existed.

    I hope you might email me for further discussions.

    Scott Jens, O.D., F.A.A.O.
    Isthmus Eye Care
    cell 608-444-1740