• 70°

LaPlace Lions Club offers free vision screening for children

LAPLACE — The American Optometric Association reported that one in four children will need or wear corrective lenses by the time they begin school, and unaddressed visual problems can become a barrier to academic achievement.

The Lion’s Club of LaPlace typically completes a Cub Sight program, venturing into local schools and allowing children to have their eyes checked.

This year, the Lion’s Club is inviting families to a free vision-screening event to be held from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Oct. 24 outside of Stage in LaPlace. Free eye screenings will be available for children ages 12 and under.

LaPlace Lion’s Club member Daniel Kurica said screenings can detect eyesight deficiencies including nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. This event is not intended to check for glaucoma or complex conditions.

Registration is not required, and walk-ups are welcome. Please bring a driver’s license or another form of identification.

The mission to help children access eye screenings and glasses began nearly a century ago when Helen Keller attended the 1925 Lions Clubs International Convention.

In her speech, Keller challenged Lions Clubs to be “knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness.”

Lions Club member Nicholas Laird said good eyesight is critical to a successful life.

“Especially with kids, eyesight is one of the most important things. Most people take it for granted. You can get the proper medical care and the proper testing, but there are a lot of people in the community that don’t have that ability to go to an optometrist or buy glasses. We think that it is very, very important that everybody has access to good eyesight,” Laird said.

He added that children often don’t know when their vision is poor because they don’t have anything to compare it to. Since children will not always speak up about vision problems, it is important to start screening while they are young.

“It can start to affect their schooling, and if it starts to affect their schooling, it can affect the rest of their life,” Laird said.

An American Optometric Association study titled “Pediatric Eye and Vision Examination” additionally found that vision disorders can adversely impact development, social interactions and self-esteem through adulthood.

Children who are found to have vision problems during the Oct. 24 screening will receive their results and a referral to a local doctor or optometrist for further care.

The LaPlace Lion’s Club also collects recycled eyeglasses to give back to the community.

For more information, visit the LaPlace Lions Club on Facebook.