Oklahoma Lions volunteers have children’s welfare in their sights

KidSight USA program’s pediatric eye screening devices are ‘changing lives for kids’

In the blink of an eye?

Well, more like five seconds. But that’s how long it took Ryder Moore’s life to change for the better.

“The preschool director told me that the Lions had done an eye test and recommended that Ryder see an optometrist,” recalls Ryder’s mom Emily. “I remember thinking: ‘What does a group of volunteers know about my son’s eyes?’”

It was the fall of 2015 and Ryder, then four, had just been tested by the Oklahoma Lions at his Cushing pre-school with a Welch Allyn spot camera, a pediatric eye screening device, as part of the Lions’ KidSight USA program.

In a non-intrusive span of five to eight seconds, the spot camera screens for a variety of eye conditions, including myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism, and amblyopia, or lazy eye.

In this instance, the camera indicated that Ryder had extreme farsightedness in his left eye. A couple of months later, after a visit to a children’s specialist in Tulsa, Ryder’s first pair of glasses arrived just in time for a family photo session.

“He put them on, and immediately he said: ‘Oh my gosh, you guys are so big!’ Everything had been fuzzy before, and now it was huge and colorful,” says Emily. “It delayed our family picture for about 20 minutes . . . I was just sobbing with joy.”

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For nearly a century, Lions Clubs International has championed the eyesight cause—recycling eyeglasses, launching Lions Eye Banks to support eye-saving surgeries, operating guide dog programs, and establishing the SightFirst disease eradication initiative. Since launching KidSight USA in 2014, the Oklahoma Lions have screened about 25,000 children in the Sooner State.

Significantly, these eye screenings have an average referral rate of 5 to 12 percent, says Oklahoma Lions KidSight USA director Tom Cummings. And while the Lions screen youths aged up to 18, they pay particular attention to children aged six months up to 6 years at day-care centers, kindergartens and schools.

“That’s the years when the eyes are forming. And with a condition like lazy eye, if they don’t catch the condition by age 6 or 7, the brain essentially turns off the development of that eye,” says Cummings.

In Oklahoma, the Lions have nine spot cameras shared by clubs across the state, with about six more that have their own—and those cameras were used by 220 volunteers at 53 screening sessions in 2017.

Enbridge is committed to enhancing quality of life in the communities where we operate. In recent months, we donated $8,000 to the Lions toward a camera for exclusive use by the Cushing club—which has already been put to good use.

The support doesn’t end there. The Lions also work through schools and day-care centers where they’ve done eye testing to help children from families in financial difficulty to get glasses or other assistance.

“I know in my heart that we’re changing lives for kids. We’ll never know about it, but it’s such a great feeling,” says Cummings.

Adds Emily: “It changed our lives, and I know it can change others.”

(TOP PHOTO: Ryder Moore has his eyesight tested with a Welch Allyn spot camera by Oklahoma Lions KidSight USA program director Tom Cummings.)