Lions clubs in the Central Island region, including Ladysmith and Nanaimo, want to set up a program that will see school children’s eyes checked more frequently.
Ron Jorgensen of the Alberni Lions Club presented the Lions’ proposal to the Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District’s Education Committee.
Titled A District Vision for Eye Care, the presentation notes that 20 percent of children may never have had a vision check by age five.
That means many who have vision problems, and associated behavioral problems, are often not diagnosed.
Lions clubs – including Alberni, Parksville, Gabriola Island, Ladysmith, and Nanaimo – have pooled $20,000 towards acquisition of four SPOT Vision Scanners for the Central Island.
The Lions Club International is prepared to provide a matching grant expected in October of 2015,” Jorgensen said.
Hand-held technology, the scanners are easily operated and allow quick checks for nearsightedness, farsightedness, blurred vision and other eye problems.
“Test can be carried out in seconds from a distance of three feet,” the Lions’ report says. The machine “Provides an analysis that can be used for informed decision making by a vision specialist.”
The operator of a SPOT screener stands three feet from the subject, captures the subject’s eyes by aiming the screen, then records information in seconds.
More frequent testing could dramatically reduce the number of students who are struggling with eye problems. Information and statistics cited in the Lions’ presentation include:
• Presently VIHA provides screening at age 4 as children go from daycare to Kindergarten
• 18 percent of children who pass the screening at age 5 have vision problems by 16
• 65 percent of special needs students have vision problems
• 80 percent of young offenders have vision problems
The Lions Club says it has approached the Vancouver Island Health Authority, and received ‘verbal endorsement.’
Jorgensen said VIHA “has identified a desire to work with the schools and Lions clubs to enhance health to children.”
The Education Committee of SD68 recommended the Lions’ presentation be referred to staff and be brought back for consideration.