Peninsula Lions Clubs continue eye care unit support

Peninsula_Lions_ClubsAnother cheque for $1,428 has been presented to the Burin Peninsula Health Care Centre by the eight Burin Peninsula Lions Clubs.

Region ‘G’, Zone 10 Chairperson Lion Bruce Grandy explained the funds were raised from the recent Journey for Sight 2011 Event by District N-4.

Burin Peninsula Health Care Foundation Chairperson Jerry Pike recalled starting in 1991-92 the Lions’ family led the way in the campaign to establish an Eye Care Unit at the Burin Peninsula Health Care Centre.

“Peninsula Lions’ efforts, since then, to maintain the unit have remained a Lions’ priority.”

Eastern Health manager Beth Mayo thanked the Lions for their contribution.

“(They have) formally recognized that having up to date eye care equipment on site greatly assists in our abilities to offer ophthalmology clinics thereby enhancing eye care services for Burin Peninsula residents.”

Mr. Grandy acknowledged “Lions of Region ‘G’, Zone 10, are very much aware of the importance of the eye care unit at the Burin Peninsula Health Care Centre. Every effort is being made to make sure that the equipment is kept up-to-date.”

Blindness Awareness Month and World Sight Day, is Today Oct. 13

world-sight-dayThe Little Rock Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children who are blind or visually impaired initiated a bill into law establishing October as “Blindness Awareness Month.” Last year, Mayor Barnett proclaimed October as Blindness Awareness Month. Studies indicate that over 14,000 persons in Collier County live with blindness or significant vision loss. Although blindness and vision loss largely affects senior citizen; accident, disease, genetics and other causes can cause vision loss to persons of whatever age.

Those persons living with blindness or vision loss and their caregivers residing in Collier County and the City of Naples may now receive education, assistive technology, mobility and adaptive independent living training and a myriad of other support services locally from the only full service center in Collier County; namely –Lighthouse of Collier.

World Sight Day (WSD) is an international day of awareness, held annually on the second Thursday of October to focus attention on the global issue of avoidable blindness and visual impairment. World Sight Day is a day of awareness and urges the local community to observe personal eye health care and that the services of Lighthouse of Collier be made known for the assistance of the blind, vision impaired and their caregivers within Collier County and the City of Naples.

The mission of the Lighthouse of Collier is to promote the development, implementation and on-going evaluation of programs and services which foster independence and enhance the quality of life for the blind, visually impaired and their caregivers. To learn more about the Lighthouse of Collier please visit or call 239-430-EYE4 (3934).

Lions Club working to fight vision problems

Lions Club Working to fight vision problemsThe Lions Clubs/Lions Club International took on a challenge in 1925 to make fighting blindness a defining cause of its clubs. The guest speaker making that challenge to the Lions group is probably history’s most famous blind person.

Standing before the audience of Lions Club members, Helen Keller told the members to become “the knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness.”

The clubs, which are volunteer organizations, already had dedicated to that cause but took the challenge to the next level. The clubs have numerous projects aimed at preventing blindness, restoring eyesight and encouraging proper eye care. Members recycle eye glasses, support Lions Eye Banks that provide tissue for sight-saving surgeries and support screening for vision.

Programs are in place within the organization designed to research and help fight the onset of cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic eye diseases, corneal blindness and more.

In keeping with the challenge made long ago, local Lions Clubs have helped a Lindsey man. The Lindsey Lions Club, in collaboration with the Fremont Lions Club and the Elmore Lions Club, presented Lindsey resident Mark Cole with $1,350 to help defray the cost of his recent eye surgeries and treatments at the Vision Center in Toledo. Cole has complications from glaucoma.

Lindsey resident and Lindsey Lions Club member Trish Weinstein brought Cole’s situation to the attention of the club that works closely with the other two local clubs. In the past, the clubs also have cooperated to assist a resident in Fremont and a Woodmore Elementary School student with vision problems.

Social Entrepreneur Bringing Quality Vision Care to India’s Poor

Social Entrepreneur Bringing Quality Vision Care to India's PoorDr. R.V. Ramani, founder of the Sankara Eye Care in Coimbatore, India, has created a successful healthcare model to deliver quality vision care to the underprivileged in rural India. Dr. Ramani’s social enterprise model works on a unique 20/80 principle where 20 percent of the patients pay for the free treatment of the remaining 80 percent of the patients who cannot afford to pay.

Dr. Ramani and his dedicated team of eye doctors perform 500 eye surgeries per day free of cost. Nearly 70 percent of these are cataract surgeries. Over the last two decades Sankara Eye Care institutions have performed more than 0.9 million free eye surgeries across India. Dr. Ramani says that even though the achievements of his group are phenomenal, they remain unsung heroes because they work out of a relatively smaller place like Coimbatore, and not a metropolitan city like New Delhi or Chennai.

Dr. Ramani’s social enterprise for vision care has a clear rural focus. He says about their typical mode of working, “We identify a cluster of 10 villages, and partner with some local women and youth, who help with the initial health survey of the villagers.” Out of every 10,000 villagers on average, about 600 to 700 people suffer from some form of visual impairment. Sankara Eye Care provides them “Gift of Vision” cards.

Thereafter, a team of doctors and paramedics from the closest Sankara Center visits those villages, treats the patients, and transports the patients requiring surgery to the main hospital. The quality of care provided to poor patients is at par with that of the paid patients. Dr. Ramani says, “We do state of the art, sutureless phaco surgery with IOL implants. The actual cost of a cataract with IOL is Rs 2,750 ($60) because we do huge volumes. We implant high-quality lenses made in Chennai.”

Dr. Ramani’s social entrepreneurship and social innovation has led him to replicate the Coimbatore model at eight centers across India. The centers not only provide vision care to the needy, but also equip the local youth from the villages with technical skills to assist in the vision care programs. India is home to the largest number of visually impaired people in the world. Social enterprises such as Dr. Ramani’s Sankara Eye Care can manage to create a ripple effect on the socio-economic structure of rural India without any government aid or support.

Photo Credit: barunpatro

Innovative vision care technology allows early detection

New Zealanders fear losing their vision above memory, hair and even the ability to walk, nationwide research conducted on behalf of eye care provider OPSM reveals.

Despite this, 55 per cent of us say we’d get our eyes checked only if eyesight starts deteriorating, rather than every two years as recommended by optometrists.

The independent survey of more than 1,000 New Zealanders coincides with the completion of a national rollout of Digital Retinal Scanners (DRS) to 46 OPSM stores nationwide.

The innovative vision care technology provides a telling picture of the retina, optic nerve and blood vessels, which can be used to help detect potentially serious vision issues and suspected disease.

“The eyes are more than just windows to the soul,” says OPSM National Eyecare Manager Matt Whiting. “They tell health experts a great deal about a person’s overall wellbeing and can lead to early detection of glaucoma, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, age-related macular degeneration as well as some forms of cancer.”

The survey found less than 35 per cent of respondents were aware hypertension, cardiovascular disease and some forms of cancer could be detected through an eye test and more than a third believe there is nothing that can be done about worsening vision.

“The fact more than a third of New Zealanders believe there is nothing that can be done about deteriorating vision is disheartening,” says Mr Whiting.

“In addition to regular eye checks, a retinal scan allows the optometrist to deliver a more in depth health assessment for the customer and empower them to increase their education and awareness of eye health. The picture can also be retained to help monitor changes over a prolonged period”.

“To be able to see is an absolute human need. But it’s a very emotional subject and one we often put off or avoid altogether. New Zealanders need to lift their knowledge and awareness around the importance of looking after their eyes and understand they are intrinsically linked to overall wellbeing,” says Mr Whiting.

“As fully trained healthcare professionals, it’s our job to look after the complete health of people’s eyes. Most blindness and vision loss is preventable if detected early, so the importance of retinal scanning technology cannot be underestimated”.

A digital retinal scan is entirely safe and requires only a few minutes in addition to a standard eye test at a cost of $40.

Eye Disease Can Indicate Increased Risk for Heart Attack or Stroke

The eyes, they say, are the windows to the soul. But did you know that the eye disease age-related macular degeneration (AMD) can also indicate increased risk of heart attack or stroke? During September’s Save Your Sight Month, Eye Care America, a public service program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, is raising awareness about AMD and its potential “window to health” through your eyes.

The AMD-Health Connection
Imagine seeing black holes in your field of vision, instead of the scene before you—your family, your garden, your favorite book. For the more than 10 million Americans who suffer from AMD, this is what life is like. The leading cause of vision loss for those 65 and older, AMD occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow under the eye’s macula, where the sharpest, central vision occurs. This causes vision to break down from the center outward. While not curable, AMD’s advancement can be delayed and treated, leading to many more years of healthy vision for those who detect it early through an eye exam.

This same blood vessel damage can also indicate risk for heart attack or stroke—as much as 8 to 10 times greater than for someone without this damage. An Australian study noted that among those whose health was followed for a number of years, subjects with AMD had more than double the incidence of heart attack or stroke. So an eye exam eye could help save not only your sight, but also your life, by letting you know of increased risk for other serious health problems.

EyeCare America provides eye exams at no out-of-pocket cost to people age 65 and older and offers online medication assistance information. The eye exams are provided by a corps of nearly 7,000 volunteer ophthalmologists across the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Those interested in the program can visit to see if they are eligible. The organization’s online referral center also enables friends and family members to find out instantly if their loved ones are eligible to be matched with an EyeCare America volunteer ophthalmologist.

EyeCare America is designed for people who:

  •         Are U.S. citizens or legal residents
  •         Are age 65 and older
  •         Have not seen an ophthalmologist in three or more years
  •         Do not belong to an HMO or receive eye care benefits through the VA.

To see immediately if you, a loved one or a friend, 65 or older, is eligible to receive a referral for an eye exam and care, visit

EyeCare America is co-sponsored by the Knights Templar Eye Foundation, Inc., with additional support provided by Alcon. The program is endorsed by state and subspecialty ophthalmological societies.

About EyeCare America
Established in 1985, EyeCare America, the public service program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, is committed to the preservation of sight, accomplishing its mission through public service and education. EyeCare America provides eye care services to medically underserved seniors and those at increased risk for eye disease through its corps of nearly 7,000 volunteer ophthalmologists dedicated to serving their communities. More than 90 percent of the care made available is provided at no out-of-pocket cost to the patients. Since its inception, EyeCare America has helped more than 1.5 million people. EyeCare America is a non-profit program whose success is made possible through charitable contributions from individuals, foundations and corporations. More information can be found at:


Lions Club of Kemptville focuses on eyecare for the community

EMC News – The Lions Club of Kemptville have been a fixture in the community since 1958 and they show no signs of slowing down.

Whether its donating to minor hockey, fundraising for local families stricken by fire, or supporting their renowned eye-care program, they are a service club that continues to have a strong presence in North Grenville since they were chartered March 25,1958.

A few of their most recent endeavours include their annual 50/50 fundraising draw held July 1, as well as sponsoring and lending a hand at the third annual Jazz in the Garden event last Saturday (July 24) to benefit the North Grenville Public Library’s ‘Room to Read’ fundraising campaign.

According to Lions Club member John Carkner, continuing to support the community has been a challenge for not just the Lions, but many service clubs in the area, since the closure of the South Gower Bingo Hall a few years ago. He said service clubs remain a big source of funding for organizations.

“With government funding not as free-flowing as it was in the days of yore, service clubs are pretty important as far as trying to provide some of what’s needed in the community,” he said.

To that end, the Lions have rolled up their sleeves to help out the North Grenville Municipal Centre, Camp Quality, Kemptville Youth Centre, they have an ongoing commitment to the Kemptville District Hospital and also support the Cheryl J. Brown Centre (Kemptville and District Home Support Inc.) Because of all they do, the Lions receive many requests for funding, which they deal with at their regular meetings.

“They (requests) come in from many different sources and we sit down as a group and consider if they’re possible and if it makes sense to do it, we’ll do it,” Carkner explained.

However one of their main focuses remains their international outreach work and eye care program.

“Vision care is important to our club,” Carkner commented, adding that Lions Club members regularly collect eyeglasses to take overseas to countries such as Guyana, and members have eye washing sessions to prepare the glasses for international travel.

“We recently washed 3,000 to 4,000 glasses that are going overseas,” he added.

“Our primary focus is probably the local area with international outreach being part of what we do as well.”

With North Grenville’s aging population, many service clubs, including the Lions are struggling to increase membership and infuse younger blood into their groups. Carkner said the club welcomes those with new visions for where the organization can move into the future.

“If people are interested in joining, their energy, inspiration, dedication and ideas would certainly be appreciated,” he remarked.

Lions clubs focus on children’s vision

Canandaigua, N.Y. —

Lions focus on children's visionAnna Orcutt thought the smiling face and the blinking red lights were amusing and so did her friends. The five-year-old was one of a number of children at St. Mary’s School last week who looked into the computer face of the state-of-the-art device being used by members of the local club of Lions International to screen young children for vision problems.

“She thought it was fun,” said Anna’s mother, Jennifer Orcutt, a registered nurse at Thompson Health.

More than 400 children of preschool or kindergarten age in the Canandaigua area will benefit this month from the project that pinpoints troubles ranging from congenital cataracts to amblyipia (lazy eye).

Jennifer Orcutt said the screening, offered at no cost, ensures more children get checked for potential vision problems before they become more serious.

“Many visual conditions must be detected early if they are to be successfully treated,” said Corning optometrist, Dr. Ed Cordes, a former international director for Lions Clubs International.

The Canandaigua Lions Club is spearheading this month’s project, called “Lions March for Vision.” It fits a main goal of the Lions International service organization, to decrease childhood blindness through early detection and treatment of the most common vision disorders.

St. Mary’s principal, Ann Marie Deutsch, said vision problems surface at an early age but can often be overlooked or misdiagnosed.

“The school environment is different than at home,” she said. It requires seeing clearly from more of a distance, seeing well in different types of lighting and other factors.

St. Mary’s is one of several schools and preschools, including Care-A-Lot in Farmington and the child care center at Bristol Mountain, where Lions Club members are screening children using the portable, computerized machine with scanning device that provides immediate results. While the screening is not a substitute for a complete eye and vision evaluation by an eye doctor, it does alert parents and teachers when a child needs a problem addressed.

Richard Ernst of Canandaigua, district governor for Lions clubs in the 10-county Finger Lakes region, said about 5 percent of the children screened so far needed referrals. “This allows parents to get their children to an ophthalmologist before the age of six and very possibly cure a problem before it becomes too late.”

Cordes said amblyopia, or “lazy eye” is one of those conditions that must be detected and treated before age six to have the most potential for improvement. “Quality vision screenings can also detect some conditions such as unequal pupil size which may be an indication of a serious systemic disorder.” The PediaVision screener being used in the project allows “one of the most accurate methods available to detect refractive error, eye misalignment, unequal pupils, congenital cataracts, and ptosis (lid droop),” he said.

Ernst said parents sign a permission slip to have their child screened.

For children needing referrals, Lions Club does refer to a specific eye examination center, he said.

“We will provide a print-out of the scan to the parent for them to take to their own eye-care professional.” For families who can’t afford the eye-care professional, “in some cases, if we are notified,” said Ernst, “we can provide assistance directly or through the Ontario Children’s Foundation. Assistance is based on need and the child must reside in Ontario Country.

Dr. Wing-Kun Tam Named to Pediatric Cataract Initiative’s Global Advisory Council

OAK BROOK, ILL. — Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) has appointed Dr. Wing-Kun Tam to the global advisory council of the Pediatric Cataract Initiative (

The newly founded Initiative is utilizing the resources of the Bausch + Lomb Early Vision Institute and LCIF to identify, fund and promote innovative methods of overcoming pediatric cataract — a debilitating childhood eye condition — for the long-term benefit of children, their families and their communities.

Dr. Tam was recently elected as the first vice president of Lions Clubs International at its International Convention in Sydney, Australia. He will become president of Lions Clubs International in June 2011.

Dr. Tam was instrumental in launching the “SightFirst China Action” program in 1990 between LCIF’s SightFirst Program and the People’s Republic of China. This partnership paired Lions Clubs blindness prevention mobilization efforts with financial support for SightFirst China Action, and was matched by US$200 million from the Chinese government. Since the program’s launch, SightFirst China Action has restored sight by providing cataract surgeries to more than five million people in China and strengthening the eye care infrastructure by creating secondary eye care units at hospitals in 200 counties with under developed eye care within China’s provinces and in Tibet.

He is a member and/or chairperson of numerous boards and committees of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) government. He has been the Hong Kong Convention Ambassador since 1995. Prior to the establishment of the Hong Kong SAR, he served as a Hong Kong district affairs advisor.

Dr. Tam is a justice of the peace in the Hong Kong SAR. He was appointed honorary consul of the Republic of Kenya in the Hong Kong SAR and Macau SAR of the People’s Republic of China as well as commissioner for the Kenya Tourist Board – Far East.

His vast experience with LCIF’s worldwide blindness prevention efforts and LCIF’s collaboration for initiatives within China will add to the Pediatric Cataract Initiative’s global advisory council’s expertise. The PCI Advisory Council is comprised of renowned eye health experts from around the world, including:

Gullapalli “Nag” Rao, M.D. (Board Chairman). Dr. Rao is founder of the LV Prasad Eye Institute (Hyderabad, India), and he is known worldwide for his humanitarian efforts to prevent blindness.
Joseph Barr, O.D., MS, FAAO. Dr. Barr is vice president of Global Clinical & Medical Affairs and Professional Services (Vision Care) for Bausch + Lomb (Rochester, N.Y.). He is an emeritus professor of Optometry and Vision Science at Ohio State University, and the emeritus editor of Contact Lens Spectrum.
Sean P. Donahue, Ph.D., M.D. Dr. Donahue is professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (Nashville, Tenn.).
Clare Gilbert, M.D., MSc. Dr. Gilbert is professor of International Eye Health at the International Centre for Eye Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London University (U.K.), and a global authority on childhood blindness.
Scott Lambert, M.D. Dr. Lambert is professor of Ophthalmology and Pediatrics at Emory University (Atlanta, Ga.).
Lipika Roy, M.D., MBA. Dr. Roy is head of Asia-Pacific Medical Affairs for Bausch + Lomb (Singapore). A pediatric ophthalmologist, she was formerly the assistant director of research, ophthalmology, for Singapore’s National Health Care Group.

Pediatric Cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens. Causes include intrauterine infections such as pregnancy rubella, metabolic disorders and genetically transmitted syndromes.

For additional information, visit or follow the Initiative at and

Citizen Choice Awards: Garner Lions Club

By Lisa Mumma
Citizen Journalist

Editor’s note: The following is the fourth part in a six-part series of profiles on our Citizen Choice Awards honorees. Citizen Choice Awards is an award ceremony that recognizes people who exemplify what it means to be a Garner citizen. This week, we honor the Garner Lions Club for civic organization.

Winded from carrying several heavy boxes into the back door of the Garner Lions Club’s West Main Street facility, Jim Valsame, Gene English, Signal Ross and Kenny Lynch gathered on a recent afternoon to do a job. Having sorted into heaping piles more than 700 pieces of donated eyeglasses, lenses and hearing aids, including related accessories like cases and tiny batteries, they paused to admire the bounty before them.

“Our residents, eye care professionals, funeral homes and senior citizen organizations, among others, have been extremely generous this year,” said Ross, a Garner Lions Club member for more than 20 years who currently serves as club chaplain. “I’m thrilled with the number of boxes we get to pack and ship.”

Nurtured by parent organizations Lions Clubs International and the N.C. Lions Foundation, the Garner club, chartered in 1944, strives to improve the lives of the blind, visually impaired or hearing impaired by providing these individuals with opportunities to enjoy life fully and productively. Club members support these efforts through raising funds for prevention, research, education, recreation and emergency service programs to help eventually eliminate these impairments.

Club members also welcome and support collaborations with education, medical and recreational partners to create and maintain projects to meet its goal, such as funding clinical eye trials and radio reading services. The 21st-Century Vision Van travels the state, for example, providing free screenings in communities across North Carolina.

Valsame, a Lions Club member since the mid-1950s, was tapped to spearhead the SightFirst capital campaign early in his career to help the World Health Organization fight blindness in third-world countries. Inspired by Helen Keller’s challenge for the Lions Clubs to be the “Knights of the blind and deaf” when she addressed the N.C. Lions Foundation convention in 1935, Valsame also worked toward increasing the presence and reach of humanitarian campaigns such as the White Cane Fund for the Blind.

English, on the club rolls for more than 30 years, noted that club members across North Carolina enjoy volunteering at Camp Dogwood, a 54-acre resort on Lake Norman constructed to give visually impaired or hearing impaired kids a typical summer camp experience. He added that service options are endless and range from swinging a hammer, leading a hike or flipping pancakes. Clubs can also choose to sponsor kids to attend camp when funds at home fall short.

Propelled by the organization’s humble but clear motto, “We Serve,” the Garner club also directs its benevolence toward home. The legacy of its ball fields notwithstanding, in addition to subsidizing eye exams and glasses, hearing tests and aids, the club supports a long list of local charities such as Garner Area Ministries and the Linus Project. The Garner club partners with its neighboring club in Knightdale to sponsor the annual Dollars for Scholars golf tournament, which benefits area high school students who show potential for success in higher education endeavors.

“We don’t make a big deal about our work sometimes,” English said. “Lions Clubs are the best kept secret in the community.”