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Lions Clubs Encourage Early Childhood Vision Screenings

Health screenings are a traditional part of the back-to- school season throughout the country. Eye screenings in particular are important for children entering school for the first time, since vision and learning are inextricably linked. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, vision problems affect one in every 20 preschoolers and one in four school-aged children. Unfortunately, most children do not receive proper eye screenings prior to entering school. Studies show that only about 20 percent of preschool children have their vision screened through government or private programs. Photoscreening is a screening method that uses a camera to photograph a child's eye.

It can detect conditions such as lazy eye, farsightedness and nearsightedness, cataracts and misalignment of the eyes. More than 430,000 pre-literate children in the U. between the ages of 6 months and 5 years have been photoscreened for such vision problems through their local Lions clubs. Nearly 26,500 of them have been referred for treatment.

These photoscreenings, which are done by trained volunteers, are a cost-effective way to identify vision problems in children and have been shown to be 85 percent to 90 percent accurate. Vision disorders are the fourth most common disability among children in the U. The earlier children are screened, the better the chance of preventing permanent vision loss. A child might be exhibiting signs of a vision problem if he or she: * rubs his or her eyes often; * has trouble focusing; * blinks more than usual; * squints when focusing on distant objects; * frowns excessively; * stumbles over small objects; * is sensitive to light; * has inflamed or watery eyes. If you notice any of these signs in your child, contact your doctor or check with your child's school or your local Lions club for screenings in your area. Lions Clubs International - recognized worldwide for its service to the blind and visually impaired - also dedicates itself to helping those less fortunate in communities around the world.


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