The Antrim Bennington Lions Club completed its fourth year of eye screening for children in our community.  As in previous years we tested children from ages four to six at Antrim Elementary, Bennington Elementary (Pierce) and The Grapevine. This year we expanded eye screening to neighboring towns and included Francestown Elementary, Hancock Elementary and Greenfield Elementary.

The goal is to catch eye problems so problems can be corrected and provide the child good vision for better school performance. Eye screening at this age is important because approximately 5% of children develop serious eye problems between the ages of 6 months and 5 years. Some of those problems may not be correctable unless treated before the age of five. Common problems causing amblyopia (lazy eye) are myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatism (defect of the curvature of the cornea or lens of the eye), anisometropia (different focus in each eye), strabismus (crossed or deviated eyes), and opacities such as cataracts.

Our effort was part of the Lions Operation KidSight program and the screener used the Welch Allen Suresight screening system. The volunteer using this special equipment takes a digital /measurement of the child’s eyes from a comfortable distance of three feet. Parent consent forms are distributed and signed prior to screening. For their patience the children were rewarded with stickers and temporary tattoos.

This year we tested 44 children and the results were six referrals, two borderlines and one where the child had glasses and was under a Doctor’s care.

Some good news for the fall of 2014 is the Lions Club plans to do the same schools again and expand the number of children to be screened.  We will have access to a new SPOT camera that is able to test children from six months on up through high school. Our focus for the fall will be to test all the children in schools up to the fourth grade. We also plan to contact daycare centers to eye screen their children and conduct screenings in Antrim at events such as Home and Harvest to catch even younger children.