The Lions Club of Grand Cayman is doing its part to give every local youth a chance at perfect vision. The Lions Club has been conducting sight screenings throughout all public and private schools in the Cayman Islands for four decades, and this year, their endeavor meshes with an international holiday.
This week marks World Week of Sight, and World Sight Day will take place on Thursday, Oct. 12. The Lions Club sight screenings began on Sept. 12 for all students from Year 1 and Year 7, and the testing process will conclude for those age groups on Oct. 18.
According to a press release, for the students who are referred to an optometrist for an examination and glasses, the Lions Club will assist with the cost for parents that are unable to pay. The Lions Club screened 1,345 students during the 2016 school year, and of that group, 122 students were selected for further testing.
Annual examinations are a key part of maintaining good eyesight and eye health. Lions Club organizations around the world will use World Sight Day to publicize the importance of eye health and to participate in eyeglass donations, restorative surgeries and eye health education programs. Recent studies suggest that just over 28 percent of the world’s population was affected by myopia in 2010, and that total is expected to rise to 34 percent by 2020 and 50 percent by 2050.
According to the World Health Organization, about 422 million people – or 8.5 percent of adults worldwide – were living with diabetes in 2014, which is up from 108 million in 1980. Around one in three people stricken with diabetes will have some degree of Diabetic Retinopathy, and one in 10 will wind up with a vision-threatening form of that condition.
The World Health Organization estimates that 80 percent of all the world’s cases of visual impairment can be prevented or cured, and that is why World Sight Day is an important event to spread awareness.
Dr. Cornelius Gouws, an ophthalmologist with the Health Services Authority, says that Type 2 diabetic patients should be screened for eye disease immediately after their diagnosis, but Type 1 diabetics should be screened within five years of learning of their condition. For the rest of their lives, all diabetic patients should be screened for eye disease every 12 to 18 months.
Diabetes has roughly doubled in the United States over the past 20 years – going from roughly five percent of the population to 10 percent – but there are no precise statistics for Cayman.
Dr. Gouws says that people can best ward off the specter of eye disease by eating healthy, natural foods and by cutting down on sugar and soft drinks. Get testing to know about your diabetic status. And if you discover that you are in fact diabetic, make sure that you act decisively to combat and control it.
The Lions Club meets on the first and third Thursdays of every month at 7:30 p.m. at the Lions Community Centre. To learn more about vision screenings, email [email protected]