The Times photo by Betsy ReasonNoblesville Lions Duke Miller (from right), John Hollenback and Dale Unger administer KidSight community eye screenings at Pebble Brook Preschool in Noblesville.
The Times photo by Betsy Reason

Noblesville Lions Duke Miller (from right), John Hollenback and Dale Unger administer KidSight community eye screenings at Pebble Brook Preschool in Noblesville.
Let me draw attention to Noblesville Lions' annual Pork Chop Dinner that I like to attend the first Friday in June on the Courthouse Square.

I've always encourage people to go because the fundraiser's money goes to a good cause.

One of those causes is the Lions KidSight USA, a national coalition that provides community eye screenings for children ages 6 months to 6 years in Hamilton County.

Nationally, the Lions screen more than a million kids a year. Vision problems should be detected early and corrected, by age 7, according to Lions KidSight USA.

Last week, I caught up Noblesville Lion Dale Unger, who with two other Noblesville Lions, Duke Miller and John Hollenback, were administering the KidSight screenings at Pebble Brook Preschool in Noblesville.

About 70 preschoolers, one by one, lined up for the early-detection screening. The kids were asked to stand still and look at a smiley face on a handheld detection device.

"We prefer you not to smile," Lions instructed the kids.

The test took only a few seconds, then each child received a sticker.

The Lions' vision screeners aren't required to have any medical training or expertise; they merely administer the tests using machines provided.

"If we detect some problem in their eyes, it will come up red (on the screen), said Unger, as he placed each child's results on their screening form.

Miller held the detection device in front of each child's eyes, and Hollenback operated the computer.

"It shines infrared light into their eyes, and reads it as it comes back," Hollenback said. The device detects "near-sightedness, far-sightedness, astigmatisms, lazy eye, most childhood eye diseases," he said.

Unger, who heads up the club's project, has been doing the screenings for more than a dozen years.

"When we first started, we used a Polaroid-type camera. This (new digital camera) is so much better. That old camera, you had to get exactly the right shot." The (results) were sent out to doctors. "If we didn't get the shot that they could read, we had to come back and try to find that child again."

Each of the preschoolers' families receive a letter with the test results. Then it's up to the parents to follow through if an eye-doctor appointment is needed.

"The parents seem to really appreciate it, to have this service," said Debbie Wilson, the preschool's owner. She's had the Lions administer the screenings for many years. "We do this once a year. A lot of times children this age haven't done an eye screen yet. It gives parents an opportunity to have that screening."

She remembers a vision problem detected in one of her preschoolers, a few years ago, and the child "only had to wear glasses for three years. "It detected it so early, they were able to remedy the problem, and now she doesn't have to wear glasses," Wilson said.

Noblesville Lions screen about 1,000 kids annually, with about 2 percent of the kids needing vision correction, Unger said.

This week, the Lions administered eye screenings at New Hope Presbyterian Church in Fishers, then will be at Noblesville First United Methodist Church in March and Hamilton County Sports Complex on May 20, with the schedule quickly filling up.

To schedule a KidSight screening, contact Unger at (317) 502-4904.

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