A small town in Australia, Mossman has quaint country stores, historic pubs and tree-lined streets. What it lacks is eye care. The closest ophthalmologist is nearly 60 miles away. Many residents don’t own cars and lack the time and money to travel to see vision specialists. But on Oct. 10, Lions brought vision care to Mossman. The town was the focus of Lions’ World Sight Day. International President Barry J. Palmer is an Australian, and he and the LCI’s board of directors met nearby in Port Douglas. President Palmer and board members were part of the vision screenings held by Mossman Lions and other Australian Lions. Lions screened 80 students aged 5 to 6 at Mossman State School and at St. Augustine School. Parents of 20 students were told that their sons or daughters need follow-up care. Lions were assisted by the Mossman Community Health Services and Coral Sea Eyecare in Port Douglas. Lions also partnered with others in screening more than 80 residents, including a number of indigenous villagers, at the Mossman Community Centre. “The need for this screening was clear,” says President Palmer. Between 25 and 30 percent of those screened were found to have vision problems and referred for follow-up care. Of those referred, 50 percent had significant problems which, if untreated, could lead to loss of sight. Mossman Community Health Services workers previously had told many of them that they needed see an ophthalmologist. But they had not sought treatment, probably because of the cost of transportation. One couple, advised that they were at risk of glaucoma, tried to treat the symptoms with “liquid tears.” Through a grant from LCIF’s SightFirst, Lions presented a large van to the Mossman Health Facility to be used for free trips to see a specialist. LCIF also provided funds for specialized ophthalmology equipment to the Cairns Hospital Foundation. This was the first vision screening that the local Lions had sponsored for some years. It was so successful that the Lions and Mossman Community Health Services plan to hold the screenings annually. Besides the screenings, President and Mrs. Palmer read with students at both schools and presented a check for new books for each school library. The president and board members also planted trees at the schools. Lions around the world marked World Sight Day with various activities. The Lord Mayor of Leeds in England took part in a Lions blindfold walk, assisted by a guide dog, to raise awareness of issues faced by those with sight impairments. Lions in Avallon, France, worked with local health professionals to provide free screenings and distributed information. Lions in Hyderabad, India, conducted a free eye camp and provided cataract surgeries. The Lions Club of Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands screened children and adults. And in the United States, the Coon Rapids Lions Club in Minnesota set up information booths throughout town and collected used eyeglasses and donations for the Minnesota Lions Eye Bank.
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
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