Khloe spent her days struggling to see. Her mother, Madalyn, knew a lazy eye condition ran on her side of the family, and her daughter desperately needed eyeglasses to help correct the condition.
Thanks to a grant from Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF), Lions in Utah, and Eye Care 4 Kids, a non-profit in Utah focused on providing vision care, Khloe now sees the world with her pink eyeglasses. “I cannot even begin to express how grateful we are for Khloe’s glasses,” Madalyn said.
Lions in Utah, who care deeply about the welfare of their community, recognized that many families need affordable or no-cost eye care for their children, especially in Utah, where more than 80,000 children live without family health insurance.
Khloe is only one example of more than 400,000 kids served over the last 20 years by the non-profit, Eye Care 4 Kids, founded by Joseph Carbone, an optician, and a Lion member himself. The operation uses a 34-square-foot bus to travel across Utah to provide free eye care services to children whose families cannot afford care. The “eye doctor on wheels” travels to school districts, rural areas, fairs, and Native American reservations, but unfortunately in 2019, the bus needed serious service repairs and equipment.
Lions in Utah, determined to provide eye care for their community, turned to LCIF. In response, LCIF awarded the Lions a US$99,600 grant to repair and remodel the van and acquire additional exam equipment.
Thanks to the grant, the non-profit continues to serve families with vision screenings, eye exams, and eyeglass prescriptions. “Unfortunately, some children still go to school every year without a vision screening, eye exam, or a pair of glasses,” Dr. Carbone said. “These children need these services because they cannot become self-reliant if they can’t see or read.”
Using vision screening cameras, Dr. Carbone and his staff screen children for poor eyesight, and sometimes discover serious health conditions—like tumors or glaucoma— that could lead to permanent vision loss for a child. Recently, Dr. Carbone discovered late-stage glaucoma in a child that, if not treated, would have left the child blind in six months.
For Dr. Carbone, providing eye care services is essential, but it is equally as important to bring services to families and children. “We are changing lives. Sure, it’s a pair of eyeglasses, but it’s reading. It’s education. It’s a child’s future,” Dr. Carbone said.
Lions in Utah are not alone in their dedication to giving the gift of sight to the world. Between July 2017 and January 2022, more than 60 vision-related LCIF grants were awarded to Lions totaling more than US$7.1 million.
Help us continue to help kids like Khloe see the world. Donate to the Empowering Service Fund to support all the causes of LCIF including vision.
Elizabeth Edwards is a content specialist for Lions Clubs International Foundation.
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