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A Sight for Service: Dr. Fratesi and the InfantSEE Program

Vision screenings and assessments are an important part of medical care for children. Yet, for many, their children’s eye problems go unnoticed due to a lack of access to vision care. Knowing a change had to be made, Dr. Fratesi and the InfantSEE Program became the hope for Starkville.

About the InfantSEE Program

Managed by the American Optometric Association, InfantSEE is a public health program designed to ensure that eye and vision care is an integral part of infant wellness in order to improve a child’s quality of life. With this program, optometrists can provide no-cost comprehensive eye and vision assessments for infants 6 to 12 months old, regardless of income or insurance coverage.

At this screening, an optometrist will test for excessive or unequal amounts of nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism. With the use of specialized equipment, doctors can also test eye movability, eye health, and other vision problems.

Comprehensive eye exams are important to detect problems early and ensure your children have the opportunity to develop the visual abilities they need now and in the future.

Mississippi Eye Care’s Dr. Sarah Fratesi 

It was 2003 when Dr. Sarah Fratesi attended the national optometry conference in Atlanta, where she heard former President Jimmy Carter give a speech that shocked and motivated her.

Dr. Fratesi was just beginning her career as an optometrist at Crigler Family Vision Center in Starkville. She recalls President Carter sharing the story of two of his six grandchildren making it to school with undiagnosed vision impairments. She thought, “How could this be? If children in the family of a former President can fall through the cracks, what about the rest of us?”

Dr. Fratesi heard many things at the conference that day, but President Carter’s story resonated with her most. She felt as if it was a challenge, a way of calling her to do something.

Dr. Fratesi and the InfantSEE Program

In 2005, when the American Optometric Association started InfantSEE, Fratesi had found a way to meet that challenge. Dr. Fratesi and the InfantSEE Program have been helping Starkville for more than 15 years now. Fratesi has been providing InfantSEE screenings at health fairs, clinics, and by appointment at Crigler.

Fratesi told U.S. News  in September 2021 that she truly has no idea how many screenings she’s done, but it has certainly been enough to draw attention.

More About Dr. Fratesi

Last year, Dr. Fratesi was presented with a national award by the American Optometric Association for her work in the program, but her volunteer effort doesn’t just stop at InfantSEE. Fratesi also provides screenings as part of the Excel by 5 program of Starkville and the public school district’s Third Grade Reading Initiative, providing free eye exams and glasses to children in need. She is an active member of the Starkville Rotary Club, serving as Activities Committee chairman and as a Between the Lions committee member.

As a proud Mississippi State graduate, she also provides vision screenings for MSU athletes. And when her church approached her to serve on the parish council, she didn’t let her busy schedule stand in her way; she responded quickly and happily with a yes.

Fratesi and her husband have three children, and even as a working mom with active kids, she is still inclined to keep saying yes. In June of last year, her mother sadly passed away, and in this mourning, her own mortality was brought to her mind.

As stated in the 2021 U.S. News article, she recalls thinking, “I don’t think I can do this,” when people would approach her, but after her mother’s passing she had a mental shift. She thought, “I’m 44 years old now. It’s one of those things. You realize that it’s time to help more. Nobody makes it out of here alive, so what do you want to leave behind?”

Crigler Family Vision Center is still home to Dr. Fratesi. She expresses how grateful she is to Crigler for allowing her flexibility in her rather busy schedule. She stated that “Crigler is a very family-oriented. I’m able to arrange and rearrange my work schedule around what’s going on.” And that makes all the difference.


Dr. Fratesi and the InfantSEE Program is a story unlike most. Fratesi spends her days caring for her children. Yet, motivated to do all she can to help others, she still finds time to provide for those in her community.

Come see Dr. Fratesi and the wonderful team at Crigler Family Vision Center for your next eye exam. Schedule an appointment online or give the Starkville clinic a call at (662) 323-3330. Or, get in touch with our clinic nearest you!

For more vision health stories and news, continue reading our blogs.