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I love what I do! I love the patient interaction, treating and managing eye disease, seeing babies in our InfantSEE program and finding answers for parents through vision therapy. But one of the things that I love about what I can do is give back to my community with the talents and skills that I have established. One program that is near and dear to my heart is The Special Olympics Lion’s Club International Opening Eyes. I have been the co-clinical director of the South Carolina Opening Eyes program since 2007 and have enjoyed every minute of it! We had our Charleston event a few weeks ago and I just wanted to share with you how much we were able to do and some pictures from the event. We screened 126 athletes, made 53 pairs of prescription glasses, made 7 pairs of prescription sports goggles, distributed 60 UV protection plano sunglasses, and made 7 referrals for full exams due to risk of eye disease. If you are interested in volunteering to help at one of our future events, please contact me at the office.


What the program is all about:


Special Olympics Lion’s Club International Opening Eyes


The mission of Special Olympics Lion’s Club International Opening Eyes program is to improve the quality of the life for the millions of individuals diagnosed with intellectual disabilities by optimizing their vision, eye health, and visual skills through quality eye care. The objectives of the Opening Eyes program include: 1. providing screenings to Special Olympic athletes, 2. education the athletes, parents, and coaches of the vision care needs of persons with intellectual disabilities worldwide, 3. increasing knowledge of visual and eye health needs of persons with intellectual disabilities through research.  Past research conducted with the athletes at Special Olympics events has revealed that 68 percent have not had an eye examination in 3 years, 27 percent needed glasses and 18 percent of the athletes were wearing clinically incorrect glasses. The opening eyes program is represented in all states and worldwide. Where you find Special Olympics, you will find the Opening Eyes Program. The screenings include visual acuity, color vision testing, stereo vision, cover testing, pupil testing, anterior and posterior health of the eye, intraocular pressure measurement, refractions and, if needed, complete pair of glasses and/or sports goggles are made at no cost to the athletes or their families.


The program is run by optometrists and volunteers. South Carolina’s Special Olympics Clinical Directors are Jennie Smith, OD, FCOVD and Michael Zolman, OD.  They organize, recruit volunteers, run the event and send in the glasses orders for the 3 Special Olympics events in South Carolina. Area Optometrists volunteer to do the screenings on the day of the events. Usually there are 5-10 optometrists at each event.

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