Preschool Screening Right on the Spot Preschoolers aren’t generally praised for their patience, but Lions in Texas certainly should be. Three clubs, Highland Village, Lewisville and Flower Mound, joined forces last year to screen children as young as 9 months old to catch small vision problems before they turn into large, possibly sight-robbing disabilities. “Kids don’t know they can’t see well—they have nothing to relate to,” explains Highland Village Lion Dianne Ashmore, project chairperson. She routinely contacts local day care facilities and preschools to offer free vision screening. If a child’s family is determined to be in financial need when a vision problem is detected, Lions provide assistance. Both Ashmore’s husband and daughter are Highland Village Lions who are also involved in the screening process. Vision problems are the most prevalent, disabling conditions children face today, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Since last year, Lions have focused their attention almost exclusively on preschoolers, a segment of the population not usually checked for such early vision problems. Lions originally borrowed a pediatric vision screener from the Colleyville Lions Club to check preschoolers. “Jim Cook of the Colleyville Lions has been exemplary in assisting us by bringing the equipment, helping us screen, sharing his knowledge— just overall a tremendous support to our new, growing program,” says Ashmore. The Highland Village Lions Club recently purchased a “Spot” screener by Pediavision, becoming the first club in North Texas and only the second in the state to start using this piece of innovative technology. The Spot, purchased at a discounted price of $8,500, takes only a second to get a reading—usually all the time screeners get before the small kids start squirming in their seats. It also photographs eyes in color instead of black-and-white, which enables a much more accurate reading for Hispanic and Asian children with dark pupils and irises. Money was raised from an annual hot air balloon festival Lions sponsor and the club is hoping to purchase a second unit. “The attention span of preschoolers is measured in seconds,” Ashmore points out. “Statistics from the American Optometric Association and CDC say that 80 percent of all childhood learning is visual. Our goal is to help discover potential vision—and soon, hearing— issues sooner rather than later.” She says that Lions intend to offer comprehensive screening to the area’s preschoolers since 16 members were recently certified to conduct hearing tests. More stories on Lions’ projects are in the digital LION at www. lionmagazine.org.
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