Lions Club sees value in kids' vision screenings

It can be a fairly time-consuming task for a school nurse to screen the vision of hundreds of students. That's where the Lions Club comes in.

Each year, the Beaufort Lions Club screens the vision of students at several schools north of the Broad River. This fall, they've done nine visits at seven schools, testing about 1,200 students in second through 12th grade, Lions club member Charlie Reser said.

"We saw a need for these vision screenings so we thought we could do anything we could to help," Reser said.

Sight improvement has been a main thrust of Lions Club International's community service projects. Lions clubs recycle eyeglasses, provide treatment to those losing their vision and operate banks that provide tissues for eye surgeries. Camp Leos across the country provide summer activities to visually impaired children. The Hilton Head Island and Sun City Hilton Head Lions clubs currently organize a Camp Leo on Hilton Head for South Carolina children.

The Beaufort Lions Club got involved in sight checks several years ago, inspired by the state club's mobile vision van that periodically visited Beaufort County. The local club thought it could do its own vision checks on a regular basis and purchased two testing machines. A club member who was an opthamologist trained volunteers on the machines, which contain small eye charts.

The Lions club sends a volunteer group of four to conduct the tests: Charlie Reser and his wife, Patsy, as well as Jack and Pat Sanders.

The volunteers don't diagnose problems, they simply weed out the students with good vision and identify those with potential issues to the school nurse, Reser said.

For the volunteers, the tests are a way to help the community and also make some new friends along the way.

"It's really great to interact with the kids," Reser said.

The Lions completed a testing at Beaufort High School on Nov. 9, and the group plans to stop at Riverview Charter School today.