When Seeing Clearly is a Luxury, Lions Create Change

A mother stands in the doorway of an eye clinic and cannot help but smile, watching her child see clearly for the first time. Unable to afford eye care, she did not know her daughter was struggling to see. Far too many kids experience a similar struggle, and Lions and Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) are committed to making a change.

In underserved areas of Utah, USA, eye care can be inaccessible and unaffordable. Lions, who care deeply about the welfare of their community, recognize the large number of children going without eye care and are working to provide the care they need.

Keeping their mission in mind, Lions of Utah partner with the nonprofit, Eye Care 4 Kids. Founded by optician Joseph Carbone, a Lion member himself, the operation uses a mobile vision-screening clinic to travel to areas around the Utah that need help the most. Using vision-screening cameras, Lions and other trained volunteers screen children for poor eyesight. If a screening indicates a child needs advanced care, the clinic refers them to a local doctor. The screenings have found serious health conditions like tumors and other issues that could have led to permanent vision loss.

In cases where parents cannot afford the appointment and aftercare, the eye care services are provided at no cost. It is a massive relief for parents who once needed to sacrifice vision to put food on the table or pay the bills.

There was a problem though. The van they use was in serious need of repairs and equipment. The volunteers were unable to keep up with the amount of kids they knew might be relying on them as their only source of eye care. Knowing their foundation was there to support them, Lions turned to LCIF for assistance. LCIF awarded the Lions a US$99,600 grant to repair and remodel the van and acquire additional exam equipment.

Today, the mobile vision screening clinic is back to serving children nearly every day. One special event, Refugee Family Night, opened up eye care to entire families. Utah is home to 60,000 refugees, who have come to the United States in search of a better life. However, poor vision can make this already extremely difficult transition even more challenging.

“These children and adults need these services,” says Joseph Carbone. “A person cannot become self-reliant if they cannot see or read.”

The amount of relief and joy is evident on the faces of the families there that night. Because of caring Lions and LCIF, they are one step closer to their dreams.

Visit lionsclubs.org/campaign100 to learn how Campaign 100 is empowering Lions to reduce avoidable blindness and visual impairment, and improve overall quality of life of those with blindness or visual impairment.