Allie Lawrence 2014-12-09 14:11:47
Sight for Kids Expands Beyond Asia A pair of eyeglasses can bring the biggest smile to a child’s face. But the importance of good vision goes far beyond momentary happiness. Seeing clearly can help a child read better, participate in sports and so much more. Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) and Johnson & Johnson Vision Care Companies (JJVCC) have been working together since 2002 to help millions of children see more clearly through their Sight for Kids partnership program. Launched in Asia and led by local Lions, JJVCC employees and local partners, Sight for Kids engages eye care professionals who train teachers to conduct school-based vision screenings and eye health education in underserved communities. When needed, students are referred to local eye care professionals for eye exams, eyeglasses and further treatment and follow-up care at no cost. Now, LCIF and JJVCC are expanding their Sight for Kids partnership to communities in Kenya and Turkey. These are the first two countries in Africa and Europe to receive Sight for Kids services. Through the program, more than 20 million children in underserved schools and communities across the Asia Pacific region have already benefited from Sight for Kids. In Kenya, more than 20,000 children have been diagnosed with visual impairments. Sight for Kids Kenya will provide a chance for early detection and treatment of visual impairments and eye diseases. Sight for Kids Kenya plans to train 1,100 teachers in greater Nairobi on eye health and vision screening this year. These teachers will then provide basic eye health education and vision screenings to students in 55 schools. “Many children do not know what normal eyesight is, and a lot of eye conditions go undetected. It is very important to spread the word on eye health, as well as to screen children and provide the necessary treatment,” says Tanvi Shah, an optometrist at Lions SightFirst Eye Hospital in charge of Sight for Kids Kenya. “We’re thankful that Lions and Johnson & Johnson Vision Care Companies have come together to help us.” A 2002 study of southwestern Turkey pediatric ophthalmology records showed that nearly 70 percent of children with visual impairment had cases that were considered either preventable or treatable. Sight for Kids Turkey plans to train 1,500 teachers in greater Ankara, with the goal of reaching 150,000 school-aged children in 500 schools. Local teachers will be trained in vision screenings and eye health. “We know that the economical situation is not so good, especially in rural areas. Many people need many things, but especially eye care,” says Zehra Guröl, the founder and project chairperson of Sight for Kids Turkey. “Through Sight for Kids, now we will be able to reach children in need at a more rapid pace, and identify and address vision issues.” Sight for Kids Turkey and Sight for Kids Kenya are sure to make a great impact in communities in need. Through this program expansion, Sight for Kids is saving sight for even more children and spreading smiles around the world.
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