If you could save a child’s sight with the press of a button, wouldn’t you? That’s the idea behind KidSight USA, a national initiative by the Lions Club in the United States. Lions KidSight USA was launched to help ensure that children between the ages of six months and six years receive vision screening and professional follow-up care when needed.

The early years of a child’s life are critical in the development of good vision. Unfortunately, out of every 20 pre-schoolers has an undetected vision problem that could cause permanent vision loss if left untreated.

Eyesight problems are not always evident by simply looking at a child or watching them play. Young children can and do compensate for vision problems so well that parents, teachers, and even pediatricians, may be unaware of the problem.

Children with eyesight issues don’t know they can’t see well; things look perfectly normal to them. Education studies suggest that 80 percent of a young child’s learning occurs through the use of their eyes. Also, by the time a child is old enough to be in school, some conditions can no longer be effectively treated.

The Walker Lions will be offering free vision screening for pre-school children with prior approval of the children’s parent or guardian. The Lions Club uses a hand-held auto-refractive device about the size of a large 35mm camera.

The child does not need to read letters or name shapes, and no medication or eye drops are ever administered. The process is totally painless and takes only moments for each child. The device is held about three feet from the child and is able to capture required data for over 98 percent of children. It is 85 to 90 percent accurate in detecting vision problems.

The KidSight screening program is capable of detecting six types of vision problems in children, specifically: amblyopia (lazy eye), nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, strabismus (misaligned eye), and anisometropia (unequal refractive power).

Results of the screening are given to the parents or sent home with the child. If a potential problem is identified, parents are urged to take their child to an eye care professional.

(Eyesight screening  cannot identify all eyesight condition and it is recommended that all children receive a periodic eye examination by an eyesight profession optometrist or ophthalmologist.)

The Lions Club is currently conducting 1.5 million screenings per year. Walker Lions Sherry Kiisa, Gary Walworth and Sandra Walworth recently took the training and are certified to conduct vision screenings.

The Walker Lions will be contacting child care providers in Walker and surrounding communities. Anyone wishing more information should call Sandra Walworth at (612) 618-0422 and please leave a message.

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