Lion Bill Garland conducting vision screening at a local school.
Westport Lions Roar
Lion Bob Reddick
In 1925, Helen Keller challenged Lions to be her “Knights of the Blind”. For ninety -seven years, Lions clubs have served and advocated for the blind and visually impaired.
In 1999, a group of Lions from Westport went to Merrickville to hear a presentation about eye care problems in a South American country called Guyana. Lion Jim McGlade was so moved by the presentation he invited the speaker from the Kemptville Lions Club and a native of Guyana to speak to the Westport club.
At the next general meeting, Lion McGlade was nominated to be part of a Lion delegation to test the eyes of children in Guyana. Jim laughs when he reminisces, “The club passed a motion to pay for my flight to Guyana, but it was only for one-way.” I didn’t ask him which way.
Jim has made three trips to Guyana and one to Trinidad and Tobago. Lion Jim was so overwhelmed by what he saw in Guyana he decided he needed to act. As district chairperson of vision, Jim sought the advice of an optometrist. He suggested to Jim that instead of spending $10,000 on eye testing equipment, he could use a simple eye chart for screening.
Lion Jim went to Arnprior to check out the possibility of purchasing a vision kit and then made a presentation to the school boards about his idea to screen students for possible vision problems. The Lion District bought six vision kits and the program mushroomed. Vision screening at the two local schools started in 2004.
Westport Lion members will visit Rideau Vista Public School on Tuesday, November 1, and St. Edward Catholic School on Thursday, November 3 to conduct vision screening.
The purpose of this service is to detect various vision problems that the children and their parents might not be aware of. A team of Lions will check a student’s vision, possible colour blindness, and depth perception. If they feel there could be a vision problem, then the parent is contacted and encouraged to seek professional help. The Westport Lions will do their best to help any person with a vision problem.
Lion Jim says one of the main problems they encounter is a lazy eye which glasses can correct if the problem is caught at an early age. The younger the child is when a lazy eye is diagnosed, the more successful treatment is likely to be. A lazy eye (amblyopia) is reduced vision in one eye caused by abnormal visual development early in life. The weaker, or lazy eye often wanders inward or outward. Amblyopia generally develops from birth up to the age of seven. It is the leading cause of decreased vision among children.
Colour blindness is another problem the Lions can diagnose. It can impact various career choices in the child’s future.
In addition to vision screening, the Westport Lions participate in guide dogs’ sponsorships, support eye-care centres, purchase vision-enhancing equipment, and collect eyeglasses and hearing aids.
All types of used eyeglasses can be dropped off at the Westport Village Pharmacy, The Rideau Medical Centre in Newboro, Country Roads Community Health Centre in Westport or any Lion member. Glass cases are not required because of the additional weight and cost of shipping.