Lions conduct vision testing

HOUGHTON – Calvin Rinkinen sat quietly on his father’s lap as a special device was used to check the 3-year-old’s eyes for any problems.

The free eye exams were conducted Saturday at the Portage Lake District Library by the Chassell Lions, and Ross Rinkinen, who is a member of the organization, said he brought Calvin to be examined to catch any potential problems.

“It’s great to get him tested early,” he said.

No problems were found from Calvin’s exam, Rinkinen said. He’ll have Calvin checked in two years, which is the recommended interval.

Jenny Ware, coordinator of the Chassell Lions Kidsight Screening program, said the electronic device, called a Spot Digital Vision Screener, checked for such vision problems as myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism, among others, in children 5 years old or younger.

“Our goal is to screen the vision at pre-school age,” she said.

Finding vision problems in a child early can lead to treatment, which could keep those problems from getting worse, Ware said.

Ware said 2 to 5 percent of children 1 to 5 years old have some sort of vision problem.

Once the screening device is used on a child, Ware said 18 pictures are taken of the eyes in less than a second. The information is sent to a laptop computer and then printed out for the parent. If problems are found, parents are told the child should be taken to an optometrist for a more thorough examination and possible treatment.

An older method used to check children’s eyes took from four to six weeks to get the information back to the parent, Ware said.

The Chassell Lions have been doing eye exams since 2004, Ware said. The organization received the new digital screener in January 2012.

Ware said she knows the device is effective in finding vision problems.

“In one child downstate, they found a tumor,” she said. “One mother didn’t know her 3-year-old couldn’t see across a room.”

Ware said the Chassell Lions examine about 1,000 children each year.