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Lions Club launches KidSight program in Woodbury

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Lions Clubs in the East Metro recently launched the region's KidSight program, which aims to detect eye disorders among children so they can be corrected before their eyes develop fully. Maureen McMullen / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 4
Kellen Getting, a kindergartener at Primrose School of Woodbury, sits for a vision screening provided by the Lions Club KidSight program. Tonya Holt / Primrose School 3 / 4
Lions Club members volunteering with the KidSight program use Plusoptix devices to scan for possible vision concerns in children as young as six months. Each screening takes less than one minute. Maureen McMullen / RiverTown Multimedia 4 / 4

WOODBURY — Without treatment, certain vision concerns among young children can become permanent by the time a child turns 6, the age when their eyes fully develop.

A new Lions Club initiative in Woodbury aims to detect vision concerns among children as young as 6 months.

The organization's District 5M-6, which includes clubs throughout the East Metro, is seeking more schools and child care providers to host KidSight, a free vision screening program.

Part of a nation-wide program by Lions Club International, KidSight offers training and equipment to alert parents of possible eye complications among infants and children up to 6 years old.

Woodbury Lion Mark Cavaleri said early detection is key to prevent learning issues that can stem from poor vision among children too young to communicate.

"How would you expect a 1-year-old to tell you they're not seeing properly?" Cavaleri said. "They don't know they're not seeing properly, it's what they've always seen because they're not that old."

About $200,000 in grants from the Minnesota Lions Vision Foundation at the Lions Club International funded five Plusoptix devices, which scan children's eyes for issues.

Within seconds, the devices can detect complications such as cataracts, nearsightedness and farsightedness.

The main concern among children that age is amblyopia— one eye developing more than the other— which can cause a "lazy eye."

Addressing Amblyopia while the eyes are developing can usually correct the issue.

A study by the National Eye Institute suggests that uncorrected vision impairments can severely affect literacy among preschoolers.

Helping to address issues that could hamper children's education has been one of the most rewarding aspects for Joe Juettner, a member of the Roseville Lions who co-chairs the district's KidSight program.

"They're just fun to see and watch them smile, watch them be engaged and watch their curiosity," he said. "But, it's also knowing you could potentially be saving somebody's future by letting them have good vision."

The Lions launched the districts program at Primrose School of Woodbury, where they screened 84 kids in less than two hours.

They referred about six of those children to an eye doctor for an exam.

The organization also offers financial assistances for eye doctor appointments, glasses and treatment options.

Primrose Owner Tonya Holt said she could see KidSight screenings becoming a regular event at the school.

"It completely empowers the parent with that information so they can make the decision to go on to the doctor or not," she said.

Funding for the program supplied training and Plusoptix equipment to about 20 of the district's 43 Lions Clubs.

Their upcoming screening schedule includes mostly schools and daycare centers, but Juettner said they hope to expand the free service to home daycare providers and community events.

For more information about hosting a KidSight screening, contact the Woodbury Lions Club on Facebook or email woodbury

Upcoming screenings:

Parents are asked to complete a consent form for their children to be screened.

•March 1-2: Woodbury YMCA Preschool

•March 7-8: Woodbury Methodist

•March 13: Knowledge Beginnings in Woodbury

•March 22: New Horizon Academy

•April 12-13: Woodbury Lutheran

•April 26: KinderCare — Lake Road

•May 3: Kinderberry Hill

•May 24: Small World Childcare