Monarch Lions Tom Witty left and Chris Little with the SPOT Scanner at Lake Trail School. Photo submitted.

Comox Valley Monarch Lions help SPOT youth vision issues

In 1925, Helen Keller challenged Lions Clubs International to become “Knights of the Blind” in the crusade against darkness. Lions have done just that. They have worked tirelessly alongside Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) and its partners throughout the world to restore vision and to fighting preventable blindness. Nearly a century later, this long-standing mission continues.

The Comox Valley Monarch Lions Club, in co-operation with Comox Valley School District 71, has completed the “Your Vision Is Our Vision” Program for the 2019-2020 school year. Known as SPOT, this program is a vital part of the Lions’ goal to identify children within our community with vision issues.

Eighty per cent of all visual impairment can be prevented or cured. The first step is awareness. The second step is early detection through vision screening. A child’s vision is essential to their success in and outside the classroom. SPOT screens children for potential indication of myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatism (blurred vision), anisometropia (refractive power), strabismus (gaze), and anisocoric (pupil size). The most common disorders identified are myopia and anisometropia.

SPOT screening is not a comprehensive eye exam. The SPOT screeners are technicians, trained and qualified to use the screening camera. Should a scan indicate a vision issue, a letter is sent from the school to alert parents and guardians of a potential vision problem and encourages them to have their child’s vision examined by an optometrist. Children in BC, up to the age of 18, are eligible for free eye exams at most optometrists.

To date, Island-wide, Lions Club members have screened students in 10 school districts. Approximately 23,600 students in over 320 schools, including First Nations Schools, Independent Schools, and Healthy Start Programs, have been screened with 1469 being identified for further testing

This is the fourth year the CV Monarch Lions have screened SD 71 students. This school year, Grades 2, 4, and 7 in 16 elementary and middle schools were screened during the month of October. A total of 1688 students were screened and 95 were recommended for further testing by an optometrist. Since the inception in 2016 of the Lions SPOT Scan, 5289 students in the Comox Valley have been screened with 268 being referred to visit an optometrist for a complete eye exam.

The results are always the same. Early identification leads to timely referrals, professional treatment, and improved or restored eyesight.

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