It didn’t take much longer that it would taken to snap a portrait.
Pratt Lions Club member Linda Looney aimed the small, hand-held, camera-like device at the eyes of Sylvia Reinhardt of the Kansas Lions Sight Foundation. She pressed a button and, following a few seconds of a chirping sound, it was done.
Looney had scanned Reinhardt’s eyes for a myriad of potential sight-related problems. The panel on the back of the Pediavision Spot Vision Screener instantly displayed the results.
“This is as good as a prescription,” Looney said.
The machine she used was owned by her home club. But, soon one of these powerful tools will be available for use on kids locally, thanks to the efforts of several area Lions clubs and charitable foundations.
Looney and Reinhardt were at the Great Bend Noon Lions Club meeting Tuesday afternoon demonstrating how it works.
“This is an excellent opportunity for our children,” Reinhardt said. She and Looney joined Cathy Estes, children’s services coordinator at Sunflower Diversified’s Early Education Center (EEC) in singing the praises for the vision screener.
But, the cooperative effort to purchase the unit is just another example of how folks in the area come together to help others, said Noon Lions Club President Marty Steinert. “It restores your faith in humanity.”
The $7,600 Spot has been ordered and the first screening will be scheduled it arrives in a week or two. It was also announced Tuesday that a second screener will be purchased for the area.
The Great Bend Noon and Evening Lions will own the equipment but both will be housed at the EEC, 1312 Patton.
Members of the Great Bend Noon and Evening Lions, representatives of some of the others clubs involved, local eye doctors and school nurses filled the meeting room at the Highland Hotel to see the screener first hand. Those in the medical fields were also squarely behind the project.
All screenings for vision, hearing and other developmental concerns are free at the EEC. The screeners will remain at the center but Estes said others will have access to them.
The Spot is designed for children as young as 6 months. It will detect astigmatism, nearsightedness, farsightedness and differences between the two eyes. A “gaze analysis” helps determine eye misalignment, lazy eye and pupil size abnormalities.
The Spot requires only a few minutes of training, Reinhardt said. It can hold hundreds of individual test results that can be sent directly to a printer or downloaded onto a flashdrive.
A vision problem is the single most prevalent disabling condition among children, and an undiagnosed or untreated disorder clearly leaves a child behind in the classroom, according to the Lions Sight Foundation.
To illustrate the extent of the problem: 25 percent of school-age children in the U.S. have a vision problem; 70 percent of juvenile delinquents have a vision issue; and 80 percent of children diagnosed with a learning disability have an untreated vision problem.
With these statistics in mind, Estes said there is a huge need for the Spot. Her staff is out on the road just about every day conducting testing, which includes the vision screening.
Lions clubs participating included Claflin, Ellinwood, Fort Larned, Great Bend Noon, Great Bend Evening, LaCrosse, Larned Noon, Little River, Macksville, Otis, Stafford and St. John. Since Sunflower provides services in Barton, Pawnee, Rice, Rush and Stafford counties, it is helping children in each of those communities, Estes said.
In addition, the EEC is one of 36 tiny-k networks in Kansas and falls under the jurisdiction of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment which mandates screenings, Estes said.
In addition, funds came from the Golden Belt Community Foundation, the Robbins Family Foundation and individual contributions.