Arizona mom credits free eye exam to saving baby's life - Tucson News Now

Arizona mom credits free eye exam to saving baby's life

By Scott Kilbury - email

Stacey Zellers has a whole new perspective on life since she took her baby daughter Gracie for a visit to the eye doctor.   "If I have a bad day I just look at her and remember how lucky were are," She said."

Stacey was simply taking advantage of the InfantSEE program.   It's a nationwide campaign where optometrist offer free eye screening for babies six to 12 months old.  During the screening, Dr. Wagner discovered something abnormal which turned out to be a tumor behind Gracie's eye.

The American Optometric Association encourages parents to include a trip to the eye doctor in the list of well-baby check-ups.   That's why the group started offering the InfantSEE program.

Ironically, Gracie was Dr. Wagner's first InfantSEE patient.   "Gracie was our first patient. And it was very unusual," Wagner said.  "I doubted it at first thinking it was an abnormality but it later turned out to be what we feared."

Gracie didn't have any symptoms leading up to the check up.  "It happened fast, " Stacey said.  "We met Dr. Wagner on a Tuesday, saw a specialist the next Wednesday and within the week were in surgery."

Stacey found Dr. Wagner's Tempe office on the InfantSEE website, InfantSEE.org.   She simply inserted her zip code and went from there.  Tucson has approximately two dozen participating Optometrists.  Dr. Pamel Theriot is one of them at Vision Now.

"The key is getting them in here early so if we find something we have a better chance of helping the child," Theriot said. 

The key is getting the word out about the program that's been out for more than two years.  That's why Stacey has dedicated herself to doing that.  She's been to a couple of national Optometric conventions to urge all Doctors to participate in the program. 

"I just don't understand why more parents don't use it,"  Stacey said.  "My job is to tell people the best we can."

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