SYSK: Volunteers with Iowa KidSight help thousands of children - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

SYSK: Volunteers with Iowa KidSight help thousands of children

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

Thanks to dedicated volunteers with the Lions Clubs of Iowa, thousands of children get their vision screened for free each year.

Lions Clubs across Iowa go into schools taking pictures of children's eyes, usually targeting preschoolers and kindergartners.

But to screen even younger children, the Dubuque Lions Clubs set up a booth at the Dubuque County Fair.

All the screening is done by dedicated volunteers, like Jane Steele.

"All the Lions feel it's worth the volunteer hours if you find one child who it could change their life, especially before they start school," said Steele.

The process itself is painless and fast. A trained operator uses a special camera to take a photo of the eyes. The photos are then sent to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City.

Specialists check for eye alignment, near and far sightedness and more serious conditions. Results are sent back to the parents in about three to six weeks.

"It comes directly to them. It will tell them their child passed and there's nothing wrong with the vision or that they should see an eye care provider," said Steele.

Steele said one screening in Dubuque found a child who was blind in one eye. The parents had no idea.

About four percent of children screened need some type of further eye care. If a parent can't afford that care, the Lions Club offers financial assistance.

Those with the school systems said catching vision problems early can make a huge difference in a child's ability to learn.

"Vision screening is very important for students' learning at school. If they can't see and read, and we've had a lot of students that have had problems reading and they get their vision corrected we can see a big improvement," said Dike-New Hartford school Nurse Darlys Wiese.

Better learning and a better quality of life for many eastern Iowa students thanks to the Iowa KidSight Program and the many Lions Clubs volunteers who take the photos year after year.

From May of 2010 to April of this year, more than 32,000 children were screened across the state of Iowa.

For more information on Iowa KidSight, you can email kidsight@uiowa.edu or call 319-353-7616.

Reporter: Danielle Wagner

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