By Mary Koppes
Petersburg Pilot Writer
Kids will be able to receive a free vision screening when the Mendenhall Flying Lions come through town March 24-25. The Juneau-based organization will be at the Petersburg Public Schools screening elementary and middle school students, and appointments can be made for children who are home schooled or for those who are not school-aged (down to 6 months old).
The screenings measure kid’s refraction, pupil sizes and corneal reflexes and compare them to age-based criteria.
“It identifies quite a few problems, and it’ll tell us, those kids within (age) parameter, they pass; or if they’re outside of the parameters for their age they need to go see a professional,” said Allen Butner, a member of the Mendenhall Flying Lions.
A machine called a PlusOptix takes a photo of the eyes and delivers results immediately. The whole process takes just seconds.
Screenings are performed by volunteers, not eye care professionals. Butner said they do not deliver diagnoses but can flag abnormalities that parents and caretakers can follow up on with a professional.
Bringing vision screening to rural communities is important, Butner said, because such services are often not available. However, identifying potential problems early makes them easier to address.
“A lot of these things, the sooner you find it, the easier it is to correct,” he said.
“We have a family member who was screened by the Lions and the tests showed he had a ‘lazy eye’ and was almost blind in that eye. Without that screening early on, his problem might have gone undetected longer, making it harder to correct. We are grateful that the Lions are working to screen children of all ages,” commented Anne Loesch.
The Mendenhall Flying Lions are a service organization associated with the Lions Club International. In addition to the free vision screenings, they perform other service projects including litter clean up, food drives, and an eye glass recycling program.
For more information on the screening, contact Butner at 907-723-7829.