Lions Club gives sight to local kids
The Burleson Lions are taking their motto, “We serve,” even more seriously these days ever since the club bought a precious piece of equipment for some of the community’s smallest citizens.
“The Burleson Lions Club emphasis is on sight,” Philo Waters, club member, said. “We thought we needed to be more active when it came to giving sight.”
Through sponsors and money brought in from the annual Fourth of July parade, the Lions were able to purchase a mobile eye exam machine, the Plusoptex S-12c camera.
The club then received an unexpected call from BISD.
“They wanted to know if we would be interested in conducting these eye and ear exams because it would take us less time to do it than the nurses in the schools,” Waters said. “We just finished a long seven-week project where we screened 3,686 students, wrote 345 referrals and had a total of 726 volunteer hours.”
In total, the club has screened more than 4,000 children in Burleson.
“It took the community awhile to know that we had this camera to use,” Waters said. “Our job is not to replace an optometrist, we are just saying that if a child comes up with a result, they should go get it checked out. The district has been very receptive to this. It saves the nurses time. It will take them all year to do the whole school because they can only pull a few kids from class at a time.”
Before the club could start doing exams, members first had to take a certification course by the state.
“Nurses come from all over for this thing,” club member Bill Ayars said. “So now we are certified to conduct eye and ear exams.”
Now that the club has conducted exams in schools, Ayars said that the Lions would like to screen children in day-care centers next.
“We reached out to a few day-care centers and they told us that they have to pay about $22 per child to have their hearing and vision checked,” said Ayars. “Whereas we come in, we do it for nothing.”
The hand-held camera is easy to use and is painless for the person being screened, Waters said.
“You simply focus on he smiley face on the front of the camera and it scans your eyes for abnormalities,” said Waters.
However, trying to wrangle several children at a time to be screened does present difficulties, Ayars said.
“Being around little ones is kind of like herding chickens,” said Ayars. “Some kids would come in and say, ‘Are you doctors? We don’t want to get shots.’”
Despite the difficulties with getting the children to trust him, Ayars enjoyed getting to help the children nonetheless.
“It’s fun to work with them,” Ayars said. “At Holy Cross, we had one little boy who would;t come in, he was scared to death. You do whatever you can. I walked into the hallway and tried to assure him and said, ‘No one has gotten a shot, Bud.’ He still wouldn’t come in, so I took the camera out into the hallway and he stood up against a wall and smiled. I scanned him and he passed, then I showed him the picture and he thought that was pretty cool.”
In addition to giving results right then and there, the camera can print off the results for an optometrist to read.
“It will actually tell you how much each eye is off,” Ayars said. “It’s really remarkable.”
The Lions hope that in the future, the club can conduct a large screening to bring out a mobile optometrist and have several hundred people screened in one day.
“We have access to two big trailers,” Waters said. “A child can go have their eyes screened, get a referral to see an optometrist on-site, then have their glasses made. All of it is done in an hour at no charge.”
Waters and Ayars are happy to be serving the community in such a large way.
“This is an easy way for us to serve,” said Waters. “It has been well-received and it’s expanding. The fact that it is expanding shows that there is a need for this kind of thing in the community.”