The Plusoptix, a hand-held camera, is new to the area and was made possible through a $4,500 donation from the Freistatt Lions and another donation from the Kimberling City Lions.
Kuhl explained the Plusoptix is used in screening children for amblyopia, commonly known as "lazy eye." The condition appears in about 4 percent of children. The camera measures vision reaction. Kuhl said the new equipment has enabled staff to screen double the number of children than a year ago, up to 38,000 children a year statewide.
Lions remain very important to the screening process, Kuhl said. Lions are especially helpful in directing and managing groups of children as individuals go in to have their eyes checked. She said her staff lets Lions Clubs know when they are in the area to see if anyone is available to help.
Screening with the Plusoptix takes seconds. The attached computer reads the results and may refer 10 percent of the children to eye care professionals. Kuhl stressed Lions technicians are not experts but can provide eye doctors with a clue as to what is happening.
Eye screenings through the Missouri Lions Eye Research Center are free. At times, technicians have to sell daycare operators on the idea of letting staff come in to see the children. Once detected early, amblyopia can be corrected through classes, use of an eye patch or glasses to make the "lazy" eye work harder. Often the use of glasses is temporary.
Southwest Missouri is one of the areas where fewer screenings were taking place. Kuhl thanked the Freistatt Lions for their fundraising at the Ernte Fest to acquire tools to address the situation. The busy time for screening is in the fall, at the beginning of school and in the spring, especially during Lions Sight Week at the beginning of May.
Kuhl demonstrated the Plusoptix by screening several Lions. Though calibrated for a child's eyes, the computer still detected vision issues confirmed by the adult club members.