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Lions catch early vision issues with screening

Superior Evening Lions Club member Don Johnson screens the vision of 3-year-old kindergarten student Ava, seated, and her classmates Thursday, Oct. 4, at Cathedral School using a special camera. Jed Carlson/

Members of the Superior Evening Lions Club took their work on the road last week, providing free vision screening to about 500 children in schools and child care centers in Superior, including students at Maranatha Academy and Great Lakes Elementary School.

Lions Don Johnson and Duane and Doris Aslyn on Thursday, Oct. 4, checked the vision of all 167 students at Cathedral School in two hours and 20 minutes. The SPOT vision screening camera they used was able to detect six different vision problems in seconds, sometimes in less time than it took the child to be seated.

"It doesn't take a lot of time out of the school day. It's not like it's interrupting that much," Principal Jaime Samarziya said. "It's a quick process, and that simple little process can make a huge impact on a child's daily life."

It's the second year the Lions have visited Cathedral with the camera to offer free vision screenings. Last year, Samarziya said, the test caught some students with sight problems.

"We're not taking the place of an eye doctor," Johnson said. "We're checking to see if there are possible signs the child should see an opthamologist. We're not making a diagnosis."

Samarziya said that they were so impressed with last year's screening that the entire school got tested this year, including preschoolers and middle school students.

Kindergarten teacher Bridgette Bouvine appreciated the fact that the screening worked for all ages, even the youngest. All they had to do was look into the camera.

"I think it's nice that it's quick and easy and they don't have to know their letters," Bouvine said.

Johnson said they've screened children as young as 6 months with the camera.

"Vision screening is important for all ages, but the earlier things can be caught, the better," he said.

It's a project area Lions are quick to volunteer for.

"Eyes are very important to Lions, you know," said Duane Aslyn, who's been a member since 1961. "Lions have a history with eyesight."

Samarziya was thankful for their help.

"I love that they're willing to give up their time to come," she said. "It's almost like a gift. Literally, they get a gift of sight."

Johnson said the camera was travelling on to the Brule River Lions Club for vision screening in the Maple School District this week.

The Superior Evening Lions have access to a camera, however, if other area schools or child care centers would like to receive the free vision screening.

For more information, call Johnson at 715-392-1357.