The Community Eye Care Project targets those community members who do not have the insurance or financial means to obtain the appropriate eye care on their own (generally under 200% of the federal poverty level).  Our services include examinations, glasses and other eye care or treatment, if required.  Generally this service is provided for children and adults requiring glasses to work, but includes others on a case by case basis.  Our specific goals are to ensure that children are not hampered in their education due to inadequate eye care, and to eliminate preventable causes of blindness, such as glaucoma, cataracts, etc., within the community.

For children in school the initial screening is supervised by a Sierra Sands School District Nurse and performed by one of the Ridgecrest Lions Club members, using the clubs "Spot Vision Screener".  The school nurse sends results from the "Spot Vision Screener" to the parents or guardians of children requiring a more comprehensive examination along with a note explaining the services available through the Ridgecrest Lions Club.. 

We receive referrals from schools and other community organizations, and have teamed up with several optometrists and ophthalmologists who provide examinations and other services at a professional discount or at no charge. The optometrists and ophthalmologists also assist us with running vision clinics to screen for glaucoma and other eye diseases.  These clinics are generally run once or twice a year, in conjunction with a community health fair, and are open to anyone who shows up.

 If a client needs glasses, they are sent to the Salvation Army, a partner in this effort, who interviews the client and assesses their ability to pay for the services.  They generally recommend a small co-payment for the glasses, which develops a sense of ownership and responsibility.  In those cases where the client is able to pay part of the cost, a co-payment of $20-50 would be required to be paid to the eyeglasses vendor, and the remaining cost will be billed to the Foundation, along with exam and any treatment costs.  If the client is unable to pay, the co-payment is waived.  We have a general application/routing form that is used to track clients through the process.

 The Foundation Board has set a limit on the cost the Foundation will pay for eyeglasses which allows the client, when coupled with their co-payment, to have a modest selection of frames to select from.

 If more serious issues arise, the Board of Directors decides whether or not sufficient funds are available to provide treatment.  If funds are available and within local capabilities, the client is referred to a local optometrist or ophthalmologist who agrees to provide a professional discount for their services.  If the need is beyond local capabilities, the client is referred to other foundations with which we maintain a support/referral relationship, such as the Lions Sight and Hearing Foundation and Lions Low Vision sErvices Program (LOVE).

The Eye Care Community Project is funded through public donations and fundraising activities, such as food sales at local fairs and other community events.  From the funds raised we will support several Lions eye care organizations, which then would allow our Foundation to make client referrals at no cost for eye care that is beyond normal needs.

Ridgecrest Lions Club started the sight program around 1975.  On an average, 150-275 individuals are screened for glaucoma and other eye diseases annually, and 6-10 children or needy individuals received detailed eye exams and glasses.  With the Foundations purchase of the "Spot Vision Screener"  1500 to 2500 school age children and adults are screened each year. The Foundation provides eye exams and or glasses to 2-3 clients a month.

The eyeglass recycling effort, another project of the Club.  The Club acts as a feeding group to the Lions In Sight (LIS) of California and Nevada, a 501 (c) (3) corporation which is the Lions Clubs International Recycling Center for the Western United States.  Its mission is to promote the collection of used eyeglasses for the purpose of recycling and use in developing nations, and to provide free primary eye care to needy citizens in economically disadvantaged countries via either clinic missions or established LIS permanent clinics.  To further the efforts of LIS, the Ridgecrest Lions Club provided collection points (boxes) at community eye care facilities.  Used eyeglasses are collected and then routed to a collection site in Lancaster were a work program with the local prison gets the glasses cleaned, repaired and labeled with their prescription.  Glasses are then routed to the LIS storage facility until a clinic is set up that will use the glasses.  This is principally a volunteer work effort, although the Foundation provides a small amount of funds to keep the collection boxes in good condition, and also make contributions to support the efforts of Lions In Sight.


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