“It is to the credit of the Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) and Lions clubs around the world that Lions is the first service organization or non-governmental organization to take up the challenge of childhood blindness on a global scale,” said Eberhard J. Wirfs, international president. “That’s why we are spotlighting the need for screening children at a very early age.” There are 1.4 million blind children in the world, but the sight of many of these children could have been saved through early detection and timely treatment. To demonstrate the importance of early vision screening, Wirfs and his wife, Margit, joined Lions in Prague, Czech Republic, to screen 125 kindergarten children during the international event for Lions World Sight Day. Czech Lions partnered with Prima Vizus and local ophthalmologists to provide the free screenings to children in two schools in Prague. Prima Vizus is a non-government, non-profit organization that provides free vision testing for preschool-aged children in the Czech Republic. With Sight- First funding from LCIF, the partnership program is continuing beyond Lions World Sight Day, with the goal of screening 7,794 children over the next year. For the last decade Lions clubs have marked World Sight Day in October with sight activities in cities around the world. Recent international Lions World Sight Day events have been held on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona, Mali, Bosnia and Sri Lanka. This year the Bridlington Lions Club in England set up a community display highlighting Lions work internationally through SightFirst. They also organized England’s largest blindfold walk. A total of 930 Lions clubs around the country as well as thousands of others donned a blindfold for the walk to experience what it’s like to be blind. Lions in St. Petersburg, Florida organized a community meeting to discuss new community sight programs such as eyeglass recycling, screenings, partnering and special needs. Representatives from the Florida Lions Camp, Lions Eye Institute for Transplant and Research, Southeastern Guide Dogs, Paws for Patriots and the Lighthouse of Pinellas at Watson Center participated. In Ghana, the Tema Lions Club conducted eye screenings for students of the Methodist University College and held seminars on emerging threats to sight, such as glaucoma. Several Lions clubs in Cameroon partnered to provide 100 pairs of eyeglasses to individuals and provide equipment to the Laquintini Hospital. Lions handed over the equipment during an official ceremony with the Minister of Health. Lions in India created a special postal cancellation, and the Lions Club of Madras Temple Bay, in collaboration with Sankara Nethralaya and Scope Aid, organized a free eye camp for residents of Muthukadu and nearby villages with a special emphasis on women and children. Eleven cataract operations were also funded. The Singapore National Eye Centre teamed with local Lions to screen 200 people. “We set up tables at two different stores and handed out information regarding Lions work with the visually impaired,” said Marie Valliere of the Meredith Lions Club in New Hampshire. To promote the event, Lions sent a story to three local newspapers as well as the statewide paper, all of which published the story. The club is already making plans for Lions World Sight Day 2010. Through SightFirst, Lions have restored sight to 7.6 million people through cataract surgeries, prevented serious vision loss for 30 million people and improved eye care services for hundreds of millions.
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.