All it took was seconds for Turlock Lions Club and Turlock 12:10 Lions Club members to identify possible vision problems for each kindergarten student at Julien Elementary School Wednesday morning.
Students simply had to look towards a Spot Vision Screener — a handheld, portable device — as the machine screened both eyes at once to detect any possible vision issues such as glaucoma and astigmatism.
“It indicates it they need further screening,” said Turlock 12:10 Lions Club member Harry Carlson. “If they do they will get a printed referral, which the kids take home to their parents.”
Wednesday’s vision screenings come as a partnership between the Turlock Lions Club and the Turlock 12:10 Lions Club. Turlock Lions Club member Conrad Renteria said that Lions Clubs throughout the world have been conducting vision screenings for about 50 years.
“We’ve always had an ‘eye mobile’ for vision screenings, but now they came up with these new computers so we do that instead,” said Renteria.
Turlock 12:10 Lions Club member Terry Anderson said that each of the new Spot Vision Screeners cost about $7,000. To help purchase more new machines, District 4-A1, which encompasses both the Turlock 12:10 Lions Club and Turlock Lions Club, received a $15,000 Lions Club International grant last year. Clubs throughout the District also contributed $25,000.
Just over 1,100 kindergarten and special needs students are expected to benefit from free vision screenings, and anywhere between 5 and 10 percent are expected to receive referrals. After wrapping up at Julien Elementary Wednesday, members of both clubs said that they are slated to conduct more vision screenings at Crowell Elementary School, On Track Transition Program, Osborn Two-Way Immersion Academy and Cunningham Elementary School.
According to the Lions Club International website, sight programs encourage members to work on “projects designed to prevent blindness, restore eyesight and improve eye health and eye care for hundreds of millions of people worldwide.” In addition to vision screenings like the one performed at Julien Elementary Wednesday, members are actively involved in recycling eyeglasses at 18 centers worldwide, supporting Lions Eye Banks that provide eye tissue for sight-saving surgeries and providing treatment to those at risk of losing their vision.
“One of the Lions Club’s focuses has always been vision,” said Turlock Lions Club member and Project Chair Don Deleray. “So over the years, they’ve focused on providing eyeglasses and eye checks.”