by Jamie Konigsfeld October 1, 2019KidSight Program Expands to Change Lives in ColombiaEsteban had never had his vision screened before. He had never seen those strange devices, but the Lions who brought them made him feel safe. He and his schoolmates lined up for vision testing, then followed the simple instructions: Look straight ahead and find the little bunny on the front of the machine.Esteban’s world was about to change.Many children are unaware they have a vision problem. With their impairment undetected, these children may struggle to develop life skills and learn in school. In addition, when certain eye conditions go untreated, they can result in permanent vision loss.Now, Lions are implementing this program throughout Colombia, aiming to screen the vision of six million children.This is common in many areas of Colombia, where eye care is non-existent. But Lions are determined to change this reality with Lions KidSight Colombia, a program that has succeeded in the United States — called Lions KidSight USA — and is supported by Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF). The program screens children between the ages of 6 months and 6 years, though Lions are encouraged to screen children through grade 12 when possible. Lions test for risk factors that may indicate a problem, then refer children to an eye doctor for further evaluation if needed.Now, Lions are implementing this program throughout Colombia, aiming to screen the vision of six million children.The Lions secured a US$69,022 grant from LCIF to purchase 10 vision screening devices. Past International Director Dr. Ed Cordes, a retired optometrist and chairperson of Lions KidSight USA Foundation, traveled to Colombia to help with training, including visits to an elementary school and a daycare. Of 118 children screened, 20 were referred to eye doctors. Esteban was one of them.Doctors discovered Esteban has strabismus, a condition where misaligned eyes cause double vision. Uncorrected, this can lead to amblyopia, a disorder in which an eye fails to develop proper vision and can possibly lead to permanent vision loss. Now that Esteban is receiving treatment, he can see more clearly and is no longer at risk of losing his vision.“It was an excellent experience to have professionals of all different backgrounds at our school,” says Inmaculada Solano de Hernández, principal of Normal Superior La Hacienda. “They have good hearts and are dedicated to what they do. On behalf of our community, I give the most sincere thanks.”The Lions also want to establish satellite clinics in rural areas — an enormous challenge Dr. Cordes is certain they can manage. “There were Lions who were so enthused about the program that it became contagious and others became strong supporters, as well,” says Dr. Cordes.Within weeks, Lions with KidSight Colombia screened more than 16,000 children. More than 1,600 were referred for treatment, with the costs covered by Fundación Oftalmológica del Caribe (Caribbean Ophthalmologic Foundation) and Colombia’s national health service.With support from LCIF, Colombia’s Lions have made a strong stand against vision impairment, and their impact will only grow. To learn how such projects receive LCIF funding — and how you can contribute through Campaign 100 — visit lionsclubs.org/campaign100.