The Lions Club of Tropical Gardens partnered Saturday with Optical Outlook to carry out free vision screenings for members of the public.

For decades, the Lions Club of Tropical Gardens has conducted annual vision screenings at public and private schools throughout the Cayman Islands.

“It’s to assist those persons that are unable to afford eye screening,” said Maxine Bravo, chairperson of the Tropical Gardens Club.

“Glaucoma is the second cause of blindness worldwide,” explained Melissa Huddell, an ophthalmologist at Optical Outlook, as she gave a talk on the disease.

“The problem is, you would not even know you had glaucoma until it’s in the very final stages and you start to lose your vision. That’s why it’s important to get your eyes checked,” Dr. Huddell said.

She said eye specialists look at the optic nerve because there are things that can indicate glaucoma, such as inner eye pressure, shape and color of the optic nerve and visual field.

Glaucoma has different risk factors, with family history being the strongest. African-Americans, Dr. Huddell said, were a bit more prone to glaucoma. Also, people with myopia (shortsightedness), individuals with high or low blood pressure, and diabetics are also prone to the condition. “Even kids can have it, but it’s more rare. It seems to affect more people in their 40s and up,” she said.

Kristina Lawrence, an optician at Optical Outlook, shared the dangers of how children’s eyes could be damaged by watching too much television and spending significant amounts of time on iPads.

Blindness and partial blindness was also addressed.

“We are excited the public took the opportunity to participate. We had a good turnout for the short time it was advertised,” said Ms. Bravo. “Clients got to hear a talk on glaucoma and how glaucoma affects the eyes from Optical Outlook professionals along with the vision screening.”

Over the years, the Lions Club of Tropical Gardens has participated in a number of eye-care drives.

“We have the glasses drive and persons are offered eyeglass frames for free, which is an ongoing project. We also go in to the schools to do testing,” Ms. Bravo said.

Free vision screening will also be available during the Lions Community Health Fair later this year.

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