Most people’s vision deteriorates as a natural part of the aging process. But vision problems affecting young children can have serious consequences for their social and educational development.
While Lions Clubs around the world have made it their mission to help restore sight and prevent blindness for people of all ages, children have been a primary focus. The earlier children with vision problems can be diagnosed and get medical attention, the better chance they will have to learn and develop at the same pace as their peers.
The Lions Clubs in Tega Cay and Fort Mill have brought a high-tech instrument to this mission. A special diagnostic vision screener, which the clubs bought in May, allows screeners to detect major vision issues even in children as young as 6 months.
The Welch Allyn Spot Vision Screener, with a price tag of $7,000, can detect problems such as astigmatism, nearsightedness and farsightedness. And it can do so without the child having to read an eye chart or respond in any way during the exam, which can be essential in testing very young children.
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Altogether, the clubs raised $9,000 – including a $4,000 grant from the Springs Close Foundation. The $2,000 left after buying the vision screener will be used to help pay for eye exams and glasses for children who qualify, and the Lions hope to raise at least $2,000 a year to keep the project going.
Screening of students in the Fort Mill school district will begin soon, and ultimately, the Lions hope to screen each of the more than 12,000 Fort Mill students every year. Trained club members also will begin screening children in day care centers.
The Lions, which have clubs in nearly every corner of the world, have been leaders in battling vision problems for decades. In 1990, clubs launched SightFirst, a program devoted to helping people see better on a global scale.
The screening program undertaken by Tega Cay and Fort Mill clubs is a good example of the good work the Lions do. It also shows how private charitable organizations can fill a niche in the realm of health care that otherwise might go unnoticed.
It does not seem unrealistic to expect that this local screening program alone could detect vision problems, many of them easily corrected, in hundreds of children. And that, in turn, could make a considerable difference in the quality of those children’s lives.
We commend the two Lions Clubs and their members for undertaking this valuable service and for furthering the mission of Lions Clubs everywhere.