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Father of Viral Sensation, Optometrist Share the Importance of Infant Eye Exams

The following article appeared in on June 28, 2016

Father of Viral Sensation, Optometrist Share the Importance of Infant Eye Exams

By Brandi Walker

Last summer, an adorable 11-month old girl name Piper warmed hearts on YouTube when she tried on her new pink glasses and saw her parents clearly for the first time. The pretty new glasses have been helping the farsighted baby to meet all developmental vision milestones. This is thanks to the proper diagnosis and quick treatment from her eye doctor. In fact, next month marks one year since she tried on her pink specs and now she also has a blue pair to go with her outfits.

Piper’s parents, along with the American Optometric Association (AOA), are urging parents to take their little infants to see a doctor of optometry to identify eye health issues from the start. According to the AOA’s 2015 American Eye-Q survey, only 19 percent of respondents knew that a baby’s first eye assessment should take place between 6 to 12 months. Why is this the case?

Piper’s eye doctor, Dr. Josiah Young, answers this question and shares advice for parents with babies experiencing eye problems. The 11-month old’s father, Andrew Verdusco, also shares when he first realized his daughter’s eye problems and how she’s enjoying her new blue spectacles.

Brandi Walker: When did you first realize that your baby daughter Piper was experiencing eye health problems?

Andrew Verdusco: At 10 months old, Piper wasn’t meeting the correct developmental milestones for her age. We realized she wasn’t crawling like her older brother had done at that age. We would have never recognized that the reason she wasn’t hitting the correct milestones was because of a vision problem but thankfully Piper’s mom works for an eye doctor and we decided to take her in for an eye assessment from an optometrist.

B.W.: What was she diagnosed with and what was she treated with for her condition?

A.V.: Optometrist and member of American Optometric Association (AOA), Josiah Young, O.D., diagnosed Piper as extremely farsighted by dilating her pupils. She was prescribed glasses and when we picked them up a week later, her new ability to see was obvious by her smile.

B.W.: How has her progress been with her vision?

A.V.: Piper has been reaching every developmental milestone at the appropriate time since she received her new glasses one year ago. We just brought her in for a follow up with Dr. Young and he said her vision is improving thanks to her eyeglasses. She’s about to turn two and doing great!

B.W.: How is she enjoying her new blue spectacles?

A.V.: She loves them! She loves it when we coordinate her outfits with the glasses she is wearing that day.

Doctor of Optometry, Dr. Young:

B.W.: Why do you think parents aren’t unaware that a baby’s first eye assessment should be between 6-12 months old?

Dr. Young: As a parent myself, I know there are a lot of things to worry about with your child in that first year of life (and beyond!). Because many of us take our good vision for granted, we forget how critical it is to a child’s development. The infant has no way to tell their parents that he or she isn’t seeing well out of one or both eyes. The best way to ensure that the child is on track for proper visual development is to have a comprehensive eye assessment that can detect vision problems and other eye diseases. We know that the earlier we can diagnose and treat an eye health or vision problem, the better chance the child will have at seeing and developing normally. A good time for a first eye assessment is between 6 and 12 months of age.

B.W.: What advice do you have for parents with babies experiencing eye health problems?

Dr. Young: Bring your child in for their first infant eye assessment early. The AOA recommends that a baby’s first eye assessment should take place between 6 to 12 months. If no problems are noted by the optometrist or parents, their next assessment should be around age three or before they start preschool. Clear vision is critical to a child’s development and learning. If a vision problem goes untreated, the child can have significant delays in development. This could potentially put the child behind as he or she enters school. Piper’s mom and dad brought her in for an eye assessment because she was not meeting developmental milestones— like crawling— at 10 months. Within a few weeks of wearing the glasses, Piper began to meet her developmental norms for her age.

The AOA’s public health program, InfantSEE, provides comprehensive infant eye assessments between 6 and 12 months of age as a no-cost public service. Visit the AOA’s doctor locator at to find an InfantSEE provider near you.

Baby Piper – One Year Later

Capture-piper-today article - june 2016One year after the viral video of Baby Piper, this story only gets better.

The Today Show, on June 7, 2016, checked in with Piper’s parents, and her optometrist – our own Dr. Josiah Young, to see how she is doing. (She’s doing great!)

Remember, like Piper, your child between the ages of 6 and 12 months is eligible for a free, one-time, comprehensive eye and vision assessment under the InfantSEE® program.

Contact our Newport office today to set up an assessment for your baby.



July 22 – Event at Flipdaddy’s – Raise Awareness for Infant Vision Problems

Flipdaddys event July 22-crop

Baby Piper and her parents, along with Dr. George Landon, founder of Opticare Vision, Dr. Josiah Young and the Opticare Team (Newport office).












On July 22 at Flipdaddy’s Burgers & Beers in Newport, Dr. Josiah Young and the Opticare Vision team were proud to participate in an evening with Piper and her parents to promote vision awareness with the Fort Thomas Lions Club and InfantSEE®.

Local Channel 12 News was also on hand to cover the event. See the story here.


July 16 – The Story Behind the Piper Video

Dr. Josiah Young, who examined and prescribed glasses to the infant in this viral video, talks about what preceded the video.

Can you briefly tell us a bit of the story behind this video?

The family had taken Piper, their 10-month old daughter, to the pediatrician’s office. They had a concern about her development and crawling ability. The pediatrician performed a vision screening on her with an imaging device the looks at the reflex back from the child’s eyes. It flagged a problem with her vision that was outside of the normal limits. They searched for an eye care provider in the Cincinnati area that specializes in seeing young children, and they made an appointment for Piper to see me.

Newport staff photo

Dr. Young (top row, third from right), with his team at Opticare Vision Center in Newport, KY

When I performed the exam, I initially suspected farsightedness, but this was confirmed with retinoscopy after dilating Piper’s eyes. I explained everything to the parents and prescribed glasses for Piper. When she came to pick up the glasses, she was hesitant to wear anything on her head as most infants are.

So we encouraged the parents to try again later on when Piper was in a better mood. That’s just what you have to do when working with young children. So they left our office and went down the street to a restaurant where they tried the glasses on her again. I think Piper’s reaction in the video says it all.

What do you think it is about Piper’s video that made it go viral? What has drawn so many people to it?

It’s hard for parents of children with vision problems to understand the impact it has on their child’s vision, until you see something like this. When she finally sees her mother clearly through the new glasses, the reaction is so genuine that it tugs on your heart. I love it when people tell me how much better they can see, and she did it at 10 months old!

Piper received an exam as part of the InfantSee program, is that correct? Can you tell us a little bit about that program and its importance?

Actually they were referred for an eye exam from the pediatrician, so this technically didn’t fall under the InfantSee program. InfantSee is a national program that started 10 years ago to help promote early eye exams for children in the first year of life. Parents can go on to and find a provider in their area. These exams are done at no cost to the patient or their family. So because it’s not cost prohibitive, the only barrier to getting infants checked is just getting the word out.

How common is it for small children like Piper to have difficulty seeing clearly, and how can a child’s development be affected by vision issues like Piper’s?

Some studies have shown that nearly 1 in 4 children have an undiagnosed vision problem. It’s more common for infants to have a small amount of hyperopia (farsightedness), but in Piper’s case the amount was high enough that it caused her difficulty, especially for seeing things close up. Kids with this amount of farsigtedness who do not receive proper correction with glasses often end up developing Amblyopia or lazy eye. But when the condition is caught early, like in Piper’s case, just wearing the glasses will allow the child to develop normal, single, clear binocular vision.

At what age do you recommend that a parent bring their child in for their first comprehensive eye exam?

This may come as a surprise to most parents, but kids should have an eye exam in the first year of life, preferably between 6 and 12 month. But it is extremely important to have a child’s eyes examined before the enter preschool. Many vision problems can be caught and corrected before the child gets into school. This prevents the child from having a disadvantage to learning due to a vision problem.

What would you say the take home message of Piper’s story would be for parents with infants and small children?

The vision screenings done at schools and the pediatrician’s office don’t catch all vision problems. Having a comprehensive eye exam by an eye doctor is the best way to ensure your child goes into school with the proper vision so that they can see and learn their best.

July 13 – Dr. Young’s 10 Month Old Patient Wears Her First Pair Of Glasses

Please scroll down to see the video.

It’s important to have your child’s eyes examined. Reactions like the one here on Piper after receiving glasses from an exam by Dr. Josiah Young are priceless, but it goes to show you that many children with seemingly normal vision have problems that are only detected in a comprehensive eye exam. This type of exam is different from a vision screening done at a school or a pediatrician’s office.

All children should have a comprehensive eye exam before they enter school. InfantSee providers like Dr. Young also perform no-cost exams on children ages 6-12 months. To learn more about the InfantSee program and how your child can receive a free eye exam, visit or call today for an appointment.

You can see the original post here.

In the News:

Local Channel 12 News

Fort Thomas

The Cincinnati Enquirer

AOA (American Optometric Association)


The Today Show

CBS News

Fox News

The River City News

VT WORKS – A Vision Therapy Blog

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