In 1925, Helen Keller challenged the Lions to become ‘knights of the blind’ and ever since then, the Lions have dedicated themselves to the goal of ‘eliminating preventable blindness.’
One of the essential parts of this quest is to help individuals detect the symptoms of the very insidious diseases that cause their blindness. For instance, glaucoma is a disease of the eye with very subtle symptoms that most people might ignore, like the loss of peripheral vision that begins slowly and its detection already indicates damage. Another disease is diabetic retinopthy which is a possible consequence of diabetes.
To counter these blindness causing problems, the Lions Club has developed a program of free vision, hearing and diabetes screenings. It’s designed to help detect, but not diagnose the onset of symptoms. If a person shows symptoms of any of these diseases, they are referred to their doctor for a more detailed testing.
Diabetes is a growing world epidemic. Currently, 1 in 2 (46.5%) of adults with diabetes are undiagnosed. The purpose of diabetes screening is to identify asymptomatic individuals who may have diabetes and not know it, and refer them to qualified healthcare professionals for additional assessment. A diabetes screening can help detect prediabetes as well as diabetes.
Vision & Retina Screening
Eighty percent of all visual impairment can be prevented or cured. The first step to prevention is awareness. The second is early detection through vision screening. Around the world, Lions partner with medical professionals and community leaders to screen young children, primary school students, and adults to identify those at risk for vision loss. The venue for Lions’ vision screenings varies from schools, to workplaces, to community health fairs, and the screening methods depend upon the age group. But the results are always the same. Early identification leads to timely referral, professional treatment, and improved or restored sight.
Lions around the world are working to raise awareness, bring medical care and provide education to help prevent hearing loss. More than 275 million people worldwide are hearing-impaired or deaf, according to the World Health Organization.
Just as vision-related programs have been a key element of Lions Clubs International activities since before Helen Keller called on Lions in 1925 to carry out a “crusade against darkness,” Lions have also been prominent in the battle to help people with hearing impairments.
It’s an important fight. Keller, who was deaf as well as blind, understood the isolation that hearing impairments can impose.
“Blindness separates people from things,” she once said, but “deafness separates people from people.”