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Aug 13, 2015

Children Across the Country Prepare for National Eye Screening

Chris Bennett

In September, the Belize Lions Club will be carrying out a national eye screening exercise for toddlers and up to fourteen-year-old. Through a grant from the Lions Club International Associations of Lions Club and other partners, the Lions Club in Belize will use Special Portable Eye Screeners to use for mass, rapid testing for eye problems. The Lions Club has committed to pay for the eye glasses for children who are in need and are unable to afford it. News Five spoke with the team on Wednesday.


Dr. Chris Bennett, Coordinator Eye Screening Program, Lions Club

“The whole program starts in September when school re-opens and already we are glad that Syd and Dr Cordes are here to assist us with the training. The training takes place over this weekend, so after this weekend everybody will be equipped and ready to go. We are hoping to have an extensive coverage of the program. We are encouraging LIONS to recruit non-LION members, organizations, individuals to assist us with this massive eye screening program.”


Edward Cordes

Dr. Edward Cordes, National Chairman, United Kids Sight USA

“Through-out a child’s life up to about ages twelve to thirteen, their eyes change. About ten to twelve percent of the children will have some sort of vision difficulty during their early school years. In particular, we are looking for things that would be risk factors for a condition called amblyopia or lazy eye; which is where one eye never learns to see as well as the other eye and that eye can actually become legally blind. The difficulty with that is, with two eyes open the child doesn’t know they are not seeing because they are seeing with the good eye and the bad eye is getting worse and worse. So, by doing vision screening, especially at an early age before age six, we can identify those risk factors and get those children to an eye doctor for proper treatment. After the factors for amblyopia are less of a factor, we can then find those children who need help with glasses and other vision difficulties that might hold them back in school.”


Isani Cayetano

“Now in terms of coming to Belize and being able to participate in a program where you will be seeing kids who are coming in for screening and what have you, what are you prepared for in dealing with these individuals coming in?”


Dr. Edward Cordes

“The Lions in Belize is doing a very good job of setting up the correct protocols for handling the children who are referred as we speak, in other words, those children who don’t pass the vision screening and are identified as needing help. So, the Lions in Belize will then be taking these children and being sure that they will then have the opportunity to see an eye doctor locally and also get the proper treatment.”


Cyd McDowell

Cyd McDowell, President, Plus Optix

“Really, you can’t do a screening on a child who is pre-verbal unless you have technology to do that. No matter how smart your one year old is they won’t be able to verbalize what they see on an eye chart.  So to be able to move to technology that can identify these factors that lead to amblyopia that Dr Cordes talked about. Once you are able through technology to identify these, you can have a much, much better visual outcome for that child and their learning experience and their behavior problems that they would have had in school based on not being able to see well, we are able to pick these up starting at age six months through the use of technology.”


Isani Cayetano

“And the overall benefit of such technology in the Belizean landscape? How does that aid in the process of early screening or early detection of either amblyopia or other visual impairdness, if I may?”


Cyd McDowell

“It is so easy to use this type of a device, so you can move it from Lions Club to Lions Club so you can cover a great deal of geography with one device and in such little amount of time. You can screen a hundred kids in an hour and a half. So, this can travel around Belize. We can catch all of the kids with minimal training that would normally you would have to have people who are very well trained to deal with the young children to be able to get to the kids that need the help and need further eye care.”

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