Lions Clubs share vision to save children’s sight

Written by John English

lions_screenThe Highland Village, Flower Mound and Lewisville Lions Clubs are teaming up to secure new optical screening equipment to reduce the prevalence of visual impairment in children.

Dianne Ashmore of the Highland Village Lions Club said the device the organizations are looking to purchase is far more sophisticated then what they are currently using.

“We will be purchasing a SPOT Vision Screening by PediaVision,” Ashmore said. “It will allow us to screen in color rather than black and white. The screening readouts provided give more in-depth results due to the SPOT’s ability to discern differences between the pupil and the surrounding iris in very dark brown eyes and black eyes usually found in the Hispanic and Asian cultures.”

Ashmore said the black and white equipment that the organizations currently use for screenings has more difficulty discerning those differences.

“In addition, the SPOT can screen for more vision issues. The child’s results are sent home for the parent. If the child needs further eye exams, we are providing more complete info for the optometrists or ophthalmologist.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, vision disability is the single most prevalent disabling condition among children.

Statistics from American Optometric Association indicate that 25 percent of school aged children, 70 percent of children diagnosed with a learning disability, and 80 percent of juvenile delinquents have vision issues.

The Lions clubs currently staff screenings for young people for free, and Ashmore said getting this equipment is important for her because she has personally been affected by the problem.

“With a daughter that was diagnosed before she was two years old with Amblyopia (commonly known as “lazy eye”), I know what a difference it made for her to receive vision correction early in her life,” Ashmore said. “I want that chance for all the children in our community.”

The Lions Clubs have raised approximately $1,000 to date with the help of donations from individuals and businesses like PointBank, and the purchase price of the equipment is $11,000.

The goal is to reach this amount in four to six months.

Tom Hayford of the Lewisville Lions Club has been the driving force in getting this project underway and said the SPOT vision screening equipment is really extraordinary.

“Besides checking for strength and shape of the eye, the SPOT vision system checks for five major vision weaknesses including whether the eyes are working together,” Hayford said. “If a weakness is discovered in the preschool years, there are ways that optical professionals can take corrective action to improve the child’s vision.”