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Wilmore Lions Club looks closely for vision problems

Submitted by Martha Evans Sparks

The Wilmore Lions Club, like its parent organization, Lions Club International, wants to empower volunteers to serve their communities. One of the ways Lions members accomplish that mission is by meeting humanitarian needs.

A special area of need where Lions Clubs are active is vision in general, especially helping those with eye problems who cannot afford glasses or eye care.

Three members of the Wilmore Lions Club did their part to help discover eye problems during the Wilmore Arts and Crafts Festival in October.

Wilmore’s Main Street was blocked off to all but foot traffic for a few hours while vendors sold their wares.

While that was going on, local Lions Club members were testing vision for free for anybody who asked for the service.

Wilmore City Hall allowed the local Lions Club to use their meeting room as a place to test eyes during the festival.

Lions member Paulette Britton acted as “gopher,” making her way up and down Main Street recruiting people for eye tests.

Many were attracted by the fact the test only took about 10 seconds and was free.

Two other Wilmore Lions Club members, Chuck Turner and Dr. Dale Walker, also conducted the testing. Using a hand-held autorefractor borrowed from the Nicholasville Lions Club, Turner and Walker tested approximately 40 people during the festival.

Dr. Maria Kirkpatrick, an optometrist practicing in Versailles and a member of the Wilmore Lions Club, said she has a stationary version of the autorefractor in her office and “uses it all the time.”

Kirkpatrick said this remarkable device can tell you the curvature of someone’s eyeball, “providing a baseline in which to start a prescription. If eyes are not developing correctly in early life — in childhood — it is better to find it out sooner than later.”

The Wilmore testers did not attempt to write prescriptions or give advice beyond telling someone whose eyes did not appear to be in the normal range for proper function and that he or she should see a qualified eye doctor, either an optometrist or an ophthalmologist as quickly as possible.

Jessamine County Judge Executive David West was one of the people attending the festival took time for a test and was so impressed that he left City Hall after his 10-second test, hunted up his wife, children and grandchildren who were somewhere in the festival crowd and shepherded them all in for tests.

They, like the several dozen others tested, achieved the peace of mind found by knowing nothing obviously bad was going on in their eyes.

Only one person tested was found to have an undiagnosed eye problem. That person was advised to see their “eye care professional” as soon as possible.

“The fact we are able to offer this service to the community at no charge was good for the community and for the Lions both,” observed “gopher” Lion Paulette Britton after the event.

When the Lions Club was being organized early in the 20th Century, Helen Keller, who was blind, was quoted as saying she thought one of their goals should be vision.

Lions Club has now become an international organization where vision remains one of its goals.

Our local Lions Clubs embrace this international goal by helping people who cannot afford glasses or even an eye examination.

Perhaps you have seen their closed boxes in local grocery stores or other public places with a label that says, “Lions Club: Donate used glasses here.” Old eye glasses gain a new life when deposited in such a box. Glasses will be collected by a local Lions Club member and given to someone who needs that prescription and cannot afford new glasses.