Photo Gallery | Lions Club using high-tech device to detect eye problems
DALTON -- A high-tech hand-held diagnostic camera is helping a Western Massachusetts civic organization detect eye problems that can hinder children's learning in the classroom.
For the past month, Massachusetts Lions District 33Y, representing Berkshire Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties, has been demonstrating the use of "Spot" to local Lions Clubs, as well as using the device to screen youngsters in the region for seven vision disorders including nearsightedness, farsightedness and irregularly shaped corneas and lenses.
District 33Y is the first Lions Club group in the state to purchase the camera, which has paid immediate dividends, according to Dick Laing of the Adams Lions Club.
"During one screening of 31 students, five had problems and one was serious," he said. "We've been told some [eye] doctors have been making glasses based on [Spot] -- that's how accurate it is."
In speaking before a recent Dalton Lions Club meeting, Laing explained how the computerized camera automatically focuses on the subject's face and takes a picture. A wireless signal from the camera to a printer generates a hard-copy of data that the parent can bring to an optometrist for interpretation.
Laing noted Lions Club volunteers are trained only to operate the camera, not interpret the report.
"I think this is great," said Dalton Lions Club President John "Redman" Mangano. "This complements even more of what we do."
Globally, Lions Clubs are known for their commitment to promote good vision through mobile services and collecting eye glasses for the poor around the world. Through a converted Winn-
ebago, the District 33Y offers glaucoma testing via an eye pressure test, visual and learning acuity and blood pressure screening.
Laing cited a Connecticut Lions Clubs report that found failure to diagnose and treat eyesight trouble in children affect their performance in school, self-esteem, social and emotional behavior and is linked to the high school dropout rate.
"Research has shown that of the children in the 9-15 year age group, only 10 percent of those who need glasses actually had them," he said.
In an effort to screen more school-age children, Laing said the Lions Clubs wants to bring Spot to schools across Western Massachusetts with the help of public school nurses.
To reach Dick Lindsay:
or (413) 496-6233