Kindergarten students at Ecole Our Lady of the Rosary School Georgia Mooney and Liam Fitzsimons point out where the letter E was during an eye exam administered by Sylvan Lake Lions Ray Kowalski and Julio Villegas. The Sylvan Lake Lions Club administers the test to all Kindergarten students in Sylvan Lake during the month of October. Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News

Sylvan Lake Lions Club invested in protecting children’s vision

Throughout October the Lions Club will be giving vision tests to Kindergarten students

In the month of October for the Lions Clubs International is all about eye and vision health. Here is Sylvan Lake, members of the Lions Club are visiting elementary schools to administer eye exams.

These eye exams are specifically looking for symptoms of amblyopia, or lazy eye.

According to Ray Kowalski, one of the Lions administering the test at Ecole Our Lady of the Rosary School Tuesday morning, said the earlier symptoms of lazy eye is found the better.

“Really you want it found by the age of five, because it is still treatable. That is why we do testing in Kindergarten,” Kowalski said.

Lazy eye is a condition where the eye and the brain don’t work together properly, according the kidshealth.org. Children who have this condition will have poor vision in one eye and generally good vision in the other.

There are various ways to correct the condition including; glasses, eye patches, eye drops or surgery.

“The older you get the more difficult it is to treat. In adults it is nearly impossible to treat lazy eye,” said Kowalski.

Julio Villegas, another Lion present to give the exams, explained the process is simple. Each child is show two cards, one is blank the other has a capital E on it. While wearing a special pair of sunglasses the children have to point out which hand the E is in.

If a child has difficulty determining which hand the letter is in it is a sign of amblyopia and the child will be referred to an eye doctor for further testing.

“It can be difficult because sometimes you’ll get the class clown who will just point without looking. Then we have to go a bit further,” Villegas said.

This condition affects roughly three in every 100 children. On Oct. 9, Kowalski and Villegas screened roughly 30 children, and one will be referred to an eye doctor for further testing.

Throughout the rest of the month members of the Lions Club will visit all schools in Sylvan Lake with a Kindergarten class for free screenings.

Results of the testing are later sent to the parents.

“It is so important to do this testing now. It can affect their future and even their careers,” Kowalski said, adding a career as a pilot would be out of the question.

Vision and eye health are one of the Lions Club International’s primary focuses. Along with diabetes, hearing and speech pathology.

The Sylvan Lake Lions Club has been administering this screening to Kindergarten students for at least the last 10 years. Along with the vision testing, the club also collects eyeglasses that are no longer being used to donate to people in need, through Recycle for Sight.

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