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.”

Lions Clubs of Virginia Acquire 8 New Spot Vision Screeners

Lions Clubs of Virginia Acquire 8 New Spot Vision ScreenersPediaVision, maker of the new Spot vision screener, announced today that the Lions Clubs of Virginia are upgrading their PediaVision screening units to the new Spot vision screener.

The Spot screener will be incorporated into the Lions Clubs on-going screening program. Dr. Hauser Weiler, a highly experienced ophthalmologist in Kilmarnock, Virginia, joined the Lions Clubs in 1987. He has dedicated himself to working with the Lions in many areas of sight and vision screenings, most recently promoting screening of children throughout the state in order to ensure that every child who has a vision problem is identified and helped.

With the new Spot technology, Lion Dr. Hauser hopes that schools throughout Virginia will invite the Lions Clubs in to screen the students.

“I especially ask that the Day Care Centers, both public and private, and the kindergartens, invite us in, as this is the age level where we can have the greatest impact,” said Dr. Weiler, who has split 42 years of experience as an ophthalmologist between the United States Navy, Chief of Ophthalmology at Portsmouth Naval Hospital and later, private practice. “When we screen the younger children, we are able to identify those children at risk for amblyopia (Lazy Eye) as well as those that need vision correction to see clearly, enabling them to function in school and learn.”

Amblyopia is a form of blindness in one eye that affects 1 in 50 children.

“Amblyopia is the biggest concern,” said Weiler. “We really only have until the age of 8 to correct it, which means we must identify it early, otherwise there is no chance of reversing it. School screenings don’t’ start until first grade when children are 6 or 7 years old. If we identify amblyopia at that age, we only have another year and a half or it’s over. So we have to find it sooner, by going through community organizations like Lions Clubs.”

The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that during childhood, babies up to age 2 should have vision screenings during regular pediatric visits, and screenings every one or two years from ages 3 to 19.

Lions Clubs Find PediaVision

In just one year since acquiring their first PediaVison screener, the Virginia Lions program has rapidly expanded automated & objective vision screening across the state.

“My wife was the one who heard about PediaVision’s screening device and said we needed to get it, and then she pioneered PediaVision screening in Virginia,” said Weiler, referring to Donna Weiler, Immediate Past District Governor in District 24D. “The Lions were so excited about this new device that they jumped on that opportunity. Our district bought five of the devices and have three more on order. Based on our success, four other districts are planning their orders. This is a big movement in Virginia.”

Dr. Weiler says PediaVision’s new Spot screening device has taken vision screening to an entirely new level, which will greatly help children across America.

“With this new screening device, PediaVision has completely changed vision screenings,” said Weiler. “It’s the difference between looking up at the moon and actually standing on the moon. That’s how far PediaVision has taken us.”

Spot vision can be used to screen any age group, but Dr. Weiler is most excited about being able to screen pre-verbal children and the impact it can have on them.

“The beauty of the new Spot device is we can screen any age group, because it doesn’t require the patient to participate,” said Dr. Weiler. “With preverbal children, or those with handicaps, the eye chart doesn’t work because the children can’t talk. But with Spot vision, we can screen them for a multitude of potential problems, which is a great help.”

Vision Disability, Number One Health Issue

There is an on-going and urgent need for Spot. The U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that vision disability is the single most prevalent disabling condition among children. Approximately 80 percent(1) of what children learn in their early school years is visual, so if they can’t see a teacher’s writing on the blackboard, they will struggle.

In a recent study of the top seven health issues in schools, vision disability is priority number one.(2) This clearly shows evidence that addressing the prevalence of visions disorders can improve student outcomes. Statistics show an incredible need, the CDC states that less than 15 percent of all preschool children receive an eye exam and fewer than 22 percent receive any type of vision screening.

Today, of all school-age children across America, 25 percent suffer from a vision problem,(2) yet in the 9 to 15 year age group, only 10% of those needing glasses actually had them.

New Vision Screening Standard

PediaVision is committed to setting a new vision screening standard with Spot. The technology was developed to address all of the challenges as quickly, conveniently and affordably as possible.

In as long as it takes to snap a finger, Spot can identify the most common vision issues associated with school-age children which can hamper a student’s ability to learn. A quick screening is able to detect nearsightedness (myopia), blurred vision (astigmatism) and farsightedness (hyperopia).

To Order Spot Vision

Interested parties should contact PediaVision’s Vice President, Jeff Mortensen (jeff.mortensen@pediavision.com), to learn how to acquire Spot vision.

About PediaVision

PediaVision, inventor of the Spot vision screener, is dedicated to solving the critical problem of undiagnosed vision problems and transforming the lives of thousands of children each day. Automated and objective vision screening empowers organizations in public health and private medicine to positively affect the outcomes of a child’s education performance.

Supported by ophthalmologists, optometrists, scientists and leading technology innovators, the Spot vision screener is breakthrough technology and represents what vision screening should be. Please visit www.pediavision.com .

(1) American Optometric Association

(2) Basch, C.E. (2010) Healthier Students Are Better Learners: A Missing Link in Efforts to Close the Achievement Gap.

SOURCE PediaVision