Evening Lions offer free vision screening for youth
If you are reading this now, then you probably understand the importance that vision plays in our lives. What one may not realize is that vision is a learned skill. A child learns to see, just as he learns to walk. Children grow at different rates, and so do their eyes. It is much more difficult to assess delays in sight development, and it may go unnoticed by parents. Eighty percent of all of a child’s learning is visual. If there are problems with visual processing, then a child may experience delays in learning and may not reach his maximum potential.
An estimated 15 percent of school children suffer from some form of visual impairment. One of the more important visual skills for reading is the ability to coordinate both eyes together. Uneven focus and a slightly wandering eye may not seem that alarming. If either condition goes untreated, however, then a child’s stronger eye – the one that sees farther or focuses better – slowly becomes the dominant eye.
The brain starts ignoring the images coming from the weaker eye. By the age of 10, the vision loss in the weaker eye is typically permanent. Experts say vision problems can disrupt a child’s learning, according to information from Lions Clubs International. Many young children don’t get their vision screened until they have problems learning or paying attention in school. The Florence Evening Lions Club’s goal, according to Lion Deborah Sorenson, Vision Screening Coordinator, is to screen every child in Florence County.
“As of Monday, we provided 2,323 screenings for mostly children to include a few adults,” Sorenson said. “With over 24,000 children in the public and private school systems, we have plenty of work to do. Screenings can be done on a child as early as six months old. The early the better for detecting an eye or eyes deficiency. We will also be contacting pre-schools, day cares and nurseries.” The screenings take only a few seconds per child, Sorenson said, and are carried out using a special vision screening device.
The $7,800 SPOT Camera vision screening device resembles a Polaroid instant camera, Sorenson said. Its state-of-the-art technology can test a child’s vision much faster than the equipment owned by local schools. All a child has to do is look into the viewfinder, she said, and the device takes a “picture" of the child’s eyes. In a few seconds, it can detect nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, whether focal strength is equal in each eye, gaze deviation or “lazy eye,” pupil sizes and whether pupils are lined evenly.
The device provides a printout of the results for the parent or legal guardian. If the test detects problems, a child can be referred to an optometrist or ophthalmologist. “Sometimes, parents don’t take advantage of the free screenings because they are afraid a child may need glasses, and they can’t afford it,” Sorenson said. “But that’s the mission of the Lions. We can help with purchasing glasses for those who can’t afford them, providing criteria for assistance is met.” “Let’s make sure children get the preventive care they need.
We want our children to make the world a better place. Let’s start by making sure they can see it,” she added. Want to be a Lion? The club is always looking for more members who want to make a difference in the local community. Or, would you like to send a donation to the Florence Evening Lions Club Foundation to help continue needed humanitarian service for county residents? Mail donations to 1907 Cypress Road, Florence, SC 29505.