By Kirra Grimes
KORUMBURRA kids are some of the first in Australia to benefit from a new Lions Club initiative providing free vision screenings in primary schools.
Trained volunteers from local Lions clubs including Korumburra, Leongatha, Wonthaggi and San Remo conducted screenings at Korumburra Primary School last week under the new Eye Health Program being rolled out nationwide.
Overseen by retired Leongatha optometrist and Mirboo North Lions Club member Rod Jackson, the volunteers took over 100 children through a range of simple exercises designed to test visual acuity, colour vision, and depth perception.
Children who had difficulty passing the tests were given a letter to take home to their parents suggesting they might benefit from a visit to an optometrist for a comprehensive eye examination.
Rod explained that the aim was to pick up on vision problems that may otherwise go undetected and untreated, potentially causing ongoing learning difficulties.
“It’s very important to get children the right treatment as early as possible if they’re showing signs of vision issues,” Rod said.
“One in six children will have an eye coordination or sharpness of vision problem; one in ten boys will have an issue with their colour vision; some children will have one eye that’s weaker than the other – but there’s no way to pick that without these sorts of tests, because even the child themselves doesn’t know the difference.
“To them, it’s normal, but it might be affecting their learning without anyone realising.”
With volunteers confident about the positive difference the Eye Health Program can make, more screenings are due to take place at Mirboo North, Wonthaggi, Leongatha and Fish Creek.
Rod will also be sharing his expertise with Lions Clubs in Cairns and Launceston to assist their volunteers in introducing the program, using newly purchased spot vision screening machines.
These machines, capable of screening for a range of conditions such as myopia (near sightedness) and astigmatism (blurred
vision), have become a lot more affordable in recent years, allowing the Lions to purchase 30, Australia-wide.
But more fundraising work will need to be done to get the machines into more schools through the Eye Health Program, says Rod.
“We’re only scratching the surface,” he said.