Looking into vision

Steven Tiger, a student at Mountain View Elementary School in Spearfish, gets his vision screened by Lions Club member John Daum. The machine Daum uses tests for seven different eye conditions. Pioneer photo by Mark Watson

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SPEARFISH — Getting your vision checked may have never been easier.

Starting Thursday, Spearfish Lions Club members checked elementary students’ eyesight with a simple click of a camera.

“In the two minutes this takes me, it would take an hour at the eye doctor … this machine is absolutely unbelievable,” said John Daum, a member of the Spearfish Lions Club who conducted the vision screening at Mountain View Elementary School.

Two minutes really was too long. In some cases, the test only took 10 seconds.

Using a special camera-like machine, the Lions Club members essentially took a picture of the children’s eyes and the computer uses light to measure the eyes which determines if their measurements are within range for their age.

Daum said the machine does not determine a possible prescription, but rather if there is one of seven conditions tested by the device, including stigmatism and lazy eyes, both leading childhood eye problems. Once all elementary students are tested, Daum said the Lions Club would provide to the schools a printout and results for students who the screening determined may have an eye issue.

“The Lions Club screening does an amazing job detecting minor eye turning,” said Dr. Kathy Haivala of Spearfish Eye Care Center who is a proponent of the program.

“This way is so much better than the old way, which was the school nurse having the students read letters off the chart,” she added.

Eyesight is one of the Lions Club International’s top priorities. According to its website, since 1990, SightFirst, the foundation’s program has played a major role in helping restore and improve the vision of millions around the world.

More than $356 million has been approved for over 1,330 projects in 102 countries

9.1 million cataract surgeries performed to restore sight

1,292 eye centers and training institutions built, expanded or equipped

1.8 million professional eye care and community health workers trained

164 million doses of Zithromax distributed to control trachoma

218 million doses of Mectizan distributed to halt the progression of onchocerciasis.

What’s more, if a person in in need of glasses and does not have the funds to pay for them, the Lion’s Club will provide the glasses.

The parents of children that the testing indicated a possible eye problem will receive the results next week, said Kelly Weis-Schultz, the district nurse.

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