Among the almost countless community services contributed by Lions Clubs internationally and in local communities at home is something that many people consider to be the clubs' signature cause. That is caring for and promoting proper vision.
Members of the Surface Creek Valley Lions Club in conjunction with the Delta Lions Club continued that tradition last week at the Little Sprouts Preschool in Cedaredge.
At least 40 three- and four-year-old students of the preschool received a free vision screening with results delivered to their parents. The service was also offered to all other parents in the community. The results of the high-tech eye scans can be used by the parents to consult with an eye care professional of their choice on the state of their child's vision health.
"We used to do this project for the kids in February," said club member Ray Hanson. "Now we are doing it earlier in the school year which helps catch anything with the eye before it could start to cause problems during the school year."
The free eye exams are a tradition of some 20 years for the Surface Creek Valley Club, explained Hanson and other members.
The scanning process takes place without applying any medication such as eye drops. No physical contact is made with the child.
Using a high-technology device called a Welch Allyn SureSight, members of the clubs prepared last week to screen for possible eye or vision abnormalities in some 40 local preschoolers. The hand-held SureSight scanner is about the size of a camcorder and is used in the same way.
The lens is fitted with small, flashing green lights around its circumference that help keep the child's eye focused in the proper direction for examination.
A computer chip in the device scans the eye for at least five possible conditions that might need attention by an eye care professional. The conditions scanned for are strabismus, a condition in where the eyes do not align with each other properly; astigmatism, a condition that causes blurred vision; high myopia, often known as short sightedness; anisometropia, a condition where two eyes have differing refractive power; and high far sightedness.
According to the parental information provided, the screening is "85-90 percent effective in detecting the vision problems that could lead to lazy eye," a condition in children in which vision does not develop as it should.
The SureSight doesn't actually diagnose eye conditions. Rather, it gives a printed report showing numerical values for each eye. The numbers generated by the computer scan are then given to parents who then may decide whether to have the screening followed up with a visit to an eye care professional.
The mini-clinic at Little Sprouts last week was being conducted by Patty Michael, Norma Miller and Pat Means of the Surface Creek Valley Lions Club, with oversight and assistance provided by Don Chapman of the Delta Lions Club. Chapman is local caretaker of the SureSight scanner. It is available for use countywide and has screened as many as 670 local children in a year, he said.
He explained that mostly children ages six years and under are screened. A child as young as six months was screened by a local club, he said.
The Lions Clubs' service proved itself an invaluable benefit in one instance particularly. That was when a screening was able to help provide early detection in the case of the unusual and rare condition called early childhood glaucoma, Chapman explained. According to an online medical authority, glaucoma developing at an early age will likely lead to more permanent vision loss, and even blindness if not detected and treated.
The screenings are done under auspices of the Colorado Lions KidSight Program with support from the Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Institute.