Lions save schools funds with free vision checks

Published 7:43 pm Tuesday, November 14, 2023

By the end of the year, Smithfield Lions will have conducted more than 15 vision and hearing screenings in local schools, screening more than 2,000 students and referring hundreds of children to eye doctors for further evaluation. 

One in four school aged children has a vision problem significant enough to affect learning. In economically challenged communities, one in three school aged children has a vision problem.

According to a news release from the Lions Club:

  • 80% of what a child learns in a normal classroom setting is through vision.
  • 74% of illiterate adults cannot pass a portion of their vision screening.
  • 70% of juvenile delinquents have an uncorrected vision problem.
  • Only 15% of children will visit an eye care professional before entering school.

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Children with uncorrected visual acuity less than 20/20 are three-times more likely to fail a grade in school.

Virginia mandates that students in grades pre-kindergarten, or kindergarten, while second and third grades and seventh and 10th grades have their vision and hearing screened every year, the release states

The responsibility falls onto the school nurses; however, school boards may enter into contracts with qualified non-profit vision health organizations for the purpose of conducting these screenings. Those non-profits still charge the school district to perform the screenings. On average it is $6 per student. 

The Smithfield Lions Club provides this service to Isle of Wight Public Schools and surrounding schools for free, saving the schools thousands of dollars each year. The Smithfield Lions work hard to remove poor vision and hearing as a barrier to a child’s success in the classroom, according to the release. With the addition of Suffolk Public Schools, the club’s need for volunteers has grown. For anyone who has flexible daytime hours and would like to get involved and make an impact on the community, the Lions could use a hand. 

“Join Lions. We serve,” the release said.