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Lions World Sight Day 2009 to Screen Children October 8 in the Czech Republic

OAK BROOK, Illinois, USA, September 11, 2009 – Lions Clubs International will mark Lions World Sight Day in Prague, Czech Republic, October 8. Lions members from the Czech Republic will screen the eyes of nearly 100 kindergartners in two schools in Prague. Lions are partnering with Prima Visuz and local ophthalmologists to provide the free screenings. Prima Vizus is a non-government, non-profit organization that provides free vision testing for preschool-aged children in the Czech Republic. They will also conduct a community education seminar on the importance of eye health at the Lions International Educational Centre of Ophthalmology (LIECO) in the teaching hospital at Kralovské Vinohrady Medical Faculty of the Charles University. This marks the first time that the major event of Lions World Sight Day will be held in the Czech Republic.

“It is to the credit of the Lions Clubs International Foundation and Lions clubs around the world that Lions is the first service organization or non-governmental organization to take up the challenge of childhood blindness on a global scale,” said Eberhard J. Wirfs, Lions Clubs International President. “That’s why we are spotlighting the need for screening children at a very early age.”

There are 1.4 million blind children in the world, but the sight of many of these children could have been saved through early detection and timely treatment. Amblyopia, known as "lazy eye," is a leading cause of blindness in children. Lions conduct screenings for children in order to prevent childhood blindness—screening for the most common vision disorders that can lead to amblyopia. Lions have screened more than one million children for this vision problem.

Lions plan to continue and expand the childhood screening program throughout the 2009 school year, screening 7,794 children in the cities of Prague, Ústí nad Labem and Liberec, Czech Republic. Lions have been awarded a SightFirst grant for this program from Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF). SightFirst is Lions' most ambitious and most successful initiative. Through SightFirst, Lions have restored sight to 7.5 million people through cataract surgeries, prevented serious vision loss for 30 million people and improved eye care services for hundreds of millions.

Lions are also organizing a workshop in collaboration with LIECO that will focus on the importance of proper eye health care, including the importance of eye health care for women and girls. The international theme of World Sight Day is “Gender and Eye Health,” ensuring that women and girls have equal awareness of, access to and acceptance of eye care services around the world.

Lions clubs around the world will also hold local activities throughout October to educate their communities about the need to conquer blindness and preserve sight. Lions in Singapore and Malaysia will mark Lions World Sight Day on October 11 with eye screenings, an educational lecture and exhibition. For Lions World Sight Day in the past, local Lions clubs provided diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma screenings for Native Americans on the Navajo Nation in Arizona, screened the vision children in Bosnia and Herzegovina, conducted cataract screenings and surgeries in Madagascar, screened high-risk populations for diabetes and diabetic retinopathy in California, and scheduled programs to educate community members about what can be done to prevent vision loss in countries around the world.
 
Lions Clubs International is the world’s largest service club organization with 1.35 million members in 46,000 clubs in 206 countries and geographical areas around the world. Since 1917, Lions clubs have aided the blind and visually impaired and made a strong commitment to community service and serving youth throughout the world.

Lions Clubs International Foundation is the charitable arm of Lions Clubs International. LCIF was ranked by a Financial Times study as the #1 non-governmental organization with which to partner. Established in 1968, LCIF has been involved with blindness prevention and treatment for more than 15 years through the SightFirst program. Learn more at www.lionclubs.org and www.lcif.org.

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