Pacific University Eyes Importance of Vision Exams for Infants

Pacific University's College of Optometry welcomes award-winning actor, entertainer and author Tom Sullivan on Monday, Nov. 11 to raise awareness about the importance of vision examinations for infants.

Sullivan, who has been blind since shortly after birth, will bring his motivational message in support of the American Optometric Association Foundation's InfantSEE initiative, a national program that provides free vision care for infants six to 12 months old.

Sullivan will share his story and be joined by a panel of experts who will discuss the importance of eye and vision care for infants. The program will begin at 1 p.m. in room 223 of Jefferson Hall. Parents, healthcare workers, child caregivers and educators are invited to come learn about the free InfantSEE opportunities provided at all of Pacific University's EyeClinic locations throughout the greater Portland area.

"One in four kids start school with undiagnosed vision problems, often ones that, if caught early, can be treated," said Dr. Jenny Smythe, dean of Pacific's College of Optometry.

Smythe noted that the most critical stages of vision development occur in the first year of a child's life. Undetected vision problems can lead to developmental and behavior difficulties and impede classroom learning.

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber recently proclaimed Nov. 2013 to be InfantSEE Month in recognition of the Oregon Optometric Physicians Association member optometrists' commitment to the program.

As Sullivan grew up, he and his father developed "Sullivan's Rules," the rules to play by in the sighted world. He is an excellent golfer, snow skier and marathon runner, a singer and composer who has appeared numerous times on NBC's The Tonight Show, a published author, a television actor and motivational speaker.

InfantSEE's start is due in large part to the efforts of the late Pat Cummings OD, a 1977 Pacific University Optometry alumnus who spearheaded the initiative's development while serving as AOA president.

Founded in 1849 as the Tualatin Academy, Pacific University today consists of colleges of Arts & Sciences, Optometry, Education, Health Professions and Business, with campuses in Forest Grove, Hillsboro, Eugene and Woodburn. The university's College of Optometry has produced exceptional leaders in optometric care since 1945.

Friday, Nov. 1, 2013