Bright Spots: Lions Club helps sharpen children’s vision

Bright Spots

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 6.8% of children younger than 18 in the U.S. have a diagnosed eye or vision condition.

But the Tuscaloosa Area Lions Club is helping children around West Alabama catch this problem early with the Alabama Lions Sight Initiative.

The club brings a small, handheld device to schools that scans a child’s eyes and checks for six medical eye conditions in seconds.

“It is an effort to try to catch those children who may have a vision problem and don’t know it or realize it,”  said Lions Sight Initiative Executive Director Barry Elliott. “What we find in children a lot of times is they don’t know how to express that they are having difficulty seeing.”

The Lions Sight Initiative visited students at American Christian Academy in Tuscaloosa Nov. 2, and Elliott said around 15% of children they screen are referred to an eye doctor.

“We found children that need to have further examinations,” he said. “One could not even read the big letters on the eye chart. It’s important that children have their eyes screened to set them up for learning and to have a great education.”

ACA fourth-grader Liam Hill passed the eye exam with flying colors. He said the screening is a really great idea for his peers.

“I think it is cool that they are thinking about other kids’ eyes and how they are seeing,” Liam said.  “It is easier if you can see better when you’re at school and stuff.”

Lions Club members have been helping sharpen people’s vision for nearly a century, and there’s no end in sight.

“Helen Keller came to the Lions in 1925 and challenged the Lions to become the knights of the blind,” Eliott said. “The Lions Clubs took that as a big part of their initiative.”

If you’d like to get involved with Alabama Lions Sight Initiative, you can contact your local Lions Club.

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