Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Lions Project Helps Kids See The Future

Founded in 1938, the Naples Lions Club was launched to serve the Collier County community, with its primary mission to preserve sight and hearing by funding eye exams, providing free eyeglasses, eye surgery, hearing tests, and hearing aids for financially distressed Collier County adults and children.

Recently, the Club gathered and published data from their “Amblyopia Elimination Project: Pediatric Medical Home-Based Community Vision Screening” to detect and eliminate Amblyopia or “lazy eye” in all preschool children in Collier County. Published earlier this year in the Journal of Pediatric Ophthalmology, the data from 2017 shows that this one-of-a-kind program, using philanthropic funding to provide access to instrument-based screening equipment, increased the number of high-quality vision screenings and referrals for pre-school children, thus eliminating preventable permanent vision loss. This is the only such program in any U.S. community.

Additional data demonstrates that the project has placed SPOT Vision Screeners in 88% (22 out of 25) of the pediatric medical offices in Collier County to examine children for this correctable condition. Over 45,000 children have been screened in the last 2.5 years and over 5,000 preschool children have been referred for complete eye exams. The SPOT Screeners have been provided by the Naples Lions Club via philanthropic donors and various fund-raising events and campaigns throughout the year.

“We are thrilled that our innovative program has reached this benchmark of success,” commented Dr. Howard Freedman, treasurer of the Naples Lions Club and one of the authors of this research paper. “Considering that in 2012, we only had four pediatric medical offices in Collier County doing instrument-based vision screening, we are optimistic and genuinely happy with this tremendous accomplishment. Our goal is that every child in Collier County will be screened and treated for eye problems before Kindergarten. No other community has accomplished this in the United States.”

In addition to reaching this significant goal, the Naples Lions Club screens over 2,000 pre-school children at the 50+ Collier County child-care centers annually for vision issues, including astigmatism and myopia. Members of the Naples Lions Club include five retired ophthalmologists, as well as many philanthropic-minded men and women who believe in giving back to their community.

“Our members donate their expertise and time to provide needy families with diabetes testing, blood pressure testing, school scholarships, and of course, free eye exams and glasses,” continued Dr. Freedman. The Naples Lions Club meets monthly, every first and third Tuesday at VFW Post 7721, 800 Neffs Way, on the north corner of Collier Blvd. and Pine Ridge Road in Naples at 11:30 for lunch. Guests are welcome.

Donations to support these efforts are welcome and can be made to the Naples Lions Club Foundation. For more information on becoming a member, call Austin Raabe at 239-777-4579 or 239-353-4800, or email: raabe.austin@gmail.com.

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