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Earlier this year Assistant Professor Reena Patel, OD, ’09, was honored at Optometry’s Meeting® in Washington, D.C., with the Dr. W. David Sullins Jr. InfantSEE® Award.

The award recognizes an individual doctor of optometry who has made significant contributions to optometry or to his/her community for outstanding public service involving the InfantSEE® program.

InfantSEE, a public health program managed by Optometry Cares – The AOA Foundation, is designed to ensure that eye and vision care becomes an integral part of infant wellness care to improve a child’s quality of life. Under this program, AOA optometrists provide a no cost comprehensive eye and vision assessment for infants within the first year of life regardless of a family’s income or access to insurance coverage.

“I am very passionate about helping children because they are the future and it is our responsibility, not just as health care providers, but as individuals to ensure they are set up to succeed in life,” said Dr. Patel. “There is nothing more rewarding than improving a child’s life and I am fortunate to be able to do that on a daily basis.”

Children’s vision is a priority for Dr. Patel. She is an InfantSEE advocate, offering no-cost eye exams to infants 6 to 12 months of age. She has also led hands-on workshops, training other doctors to do these same exams. “I wanted the doctors to feel comfortable working with infants, and to show them how simple it is to examine infants with basic equipment in a primary care setting,” said Dr. Patel. “In addition, I wanted to motivate the practitioners to become InfantSEE providers.”

Dr. Patel also participates in “Children’s Vision Days,” that take place weekly at the University Eye Center at Ketchum Health in Anaheim Hills, and she testified at the state Capitol in April on Assembly Bill 1110, authored by Assemblywoman Autumn Burke, D-Inglewood, which would require children to receive a comprehensive eye exam prior to starting school.

“Whether I am seeing patients, doing research, teaching or advocating, the bottom line is the same,” stated Dr. Patel. “I want to make a positive difference in the lives of our children.”