Holy Cross Anglican School Students benefit from Eye Screening
Friday, November 27th, 2015
The Lions Zone 59-Belize National Children Eye Screening Program provided free eye screening tests at the Holy Cross Anglican School. The program took place from Tuesday, November 24th through Friday, November 27th, and conducted eye testing for children ages 3-14. The school had a total of 417 students registered to have their eyes tested and vision needs addressed. The San Pedro Lions Club is one of the four clubs in Belize and has been assigned the area of Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker and the entire Corozal District to conduct the eye screening program. In total, there are over 15,000 registered children in those areas that need the screening. The program will continue with other schools on the island, including high schools, up to December 11th, and will resume in January when schools reopen.
According to Chairman of the San Pedro Lions Eye Screening Program, Jan Brown, the program is happening nationwide. Currently there are only two eye screening machines that were acquired by the Belize Lions Zone 59 which will be shared by all the Lions clubs in the country to carry on their programs. Brown explained the efficiency of the machine. “The machine is set up to do eye screen tests for children ages 3-14, anyone beyond that age, it is recommended they go to an eye clinic to get a full examination. Our machine operates with infrared lights, there is no touching of the child, no eye drops and the camera/machine is set approximately 3 feet and 3 inches away. The child looks into the camera and the machine takes around 10 to 20 seconds to make an eye measurement of the pupils and after the testing is done it will quickly give the result which can either be a pass, meaning the eyes do not have any abnormality, or reading not available (if the child is moving and machine cannot focus) or refer. The refer indication means that there is a possibility that there is a problem with the child’s sight. The machine also measures stigmatism and detects lazy eyes,” explained Brown. When the results are in, which take a little over 20 seconds; the data is recorded and taped behind a letter appointment for referral. The doctor’s appointment is made by the Lions Club and if the family cannot afford the glasses the Lions Club of Belize has funds with which the glasses can be paid for.
The 2014 census indicated that there are 105,000 children who need to take the eye test and the Lions Club is determined to screen each of these children. However, the assistance from the schools and parents is greatly needed. “For us to carry out the tests, we need to coordinate with the schools and more importantly, we need the parental consent so we can have the children take the screenings. Hence, the reason why we started at Holy Cross Anglican School, all parents at this school gave their children the permission to be part of the program,” said Brown.
The program has the permission of Ministry of Education office on the island to carry on with the activity for the rest of the schools. As well the office in Corozal has submitted the number of schools that will be participating in the program in the Northern District. In total, there are 78 facilities that will benefit from the eye screenings which amounts to over 11,000 children.
Belize is the only country, apart from the United States of America, to be conducting this sort of program countrywide. Similar eye screening programs are done worldwide, but they are limited to just a city or a particular area of a country. The San Pedro Lions Club encourages all schools and parents to support the program which brings tremendous benefits to our young children on the island.
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