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Lions Club offers eye and hearing problem

By Staff | Apr 17, 2009

The Sanibel Captiva Lions Club has started to do screenings for several vision problems such as glaucoma, amblyopia, low vision, and strabismus. We also screen for hearing problems. While we do not diagnose the problems we screen and then refer the person if it is apparent that they may have an issue. Dr. Howard Freedman, a pediatric ophthalmologist and a member of the Bonita Springs Lions Club, has been instrumental in training our core group and helping to get our program started. Because he can perform tests that we cannot the doctor is present at our screenings.

Four of our members have undergone training to screen for blood glucose levels and possible diabetes and it will soon be included as part of our testing. One of the more serious side effects of diabetes is blindness.

The steps we go through:

Get family history – some vision problems are partially hereditary like glaucoma. This history can point to people that may need a more in-depth screening to determine that the disease is not present or is present but still in its formative stage.

Visual acuity – distance and near visual – with glasses. This screening shows the person if their eyeglasses prescription needs renewing or if there are other issues. In children it can point to possible amblyopia where the refractive strength of the two eyes is substantially different. If the refractive index is very much different, the brain can decide to ignore the information coming from the weaker eye and if not corrected, could lead to blindness in one eye. Early detection and correction is very im portant.

Visual Fields – an automatic test which screens peripheral vision. Glaucoma is an insidious disease that slowly robs a person of their peripheral vision and in the extreme, their total vision. It can start so slowly that people may not recognize its progression. Glaucoma cannot be cured but if identified early it can be slowed or even arrested.

Blood pressure – high blood pressure may also affect the eyes.

Blood Glucose – diabetic retinopathy

Hearing – we test hearing at five different frequencies and several loudness levels in each ear. Because hearing can change as we age, there are different screening criteria for children and adults.

During our December screening at the Rec. Center, we tested 33 people. Most were adults but there were a few children. In that screening 13 people were referred for some kind of ophthalmic problem, some severe, some not. In fact 5 of those 13 were referred for glaucoma. One child was referred for amblyopia and one adult was found to have a severe vision problem that went well beyond just the eyes. At our March screening, there were 28 people and eight of those were referred for glaucoma.

Eyesight is often taken for granted and a trip to the Doctor happens only when there seems to be a problem. By then it could be too late. Don’t put yourself at risk, email alionbob@sanibelcaptivalions.org to sign up for the next Lions vision screening.