What is Diabetic Retinopathy and How can Lions Help?

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Diabetic retinopathy, a complication of diabetes, is the result of damage to the blood vessels of the retina—the light sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. In some cases, the blood vessels swell and leak, while in others there is abnormal growth of new vessels. The disease usually affects both eyes and most often occurs in individuals who have had diabetes for many years.

Diabetic retinopathy accounts for nearly 5 percent of the world’s blindness. Once vision is lost from diabetic retinopathy, it cannot be restored. Diabetic retinopathy can be avoided with prevention or good control of diabetes. Once diabetic retinopathy is diagnosed, progression of the disease and loss of vision can be reduced by 90 percent with improved control of diabetes and ongoing diabetic retinopathy treatment.

How can Lions Help?
SightFirst provides grant funding diabetic retinopathy projects where the disease is a significant public health concern. The projects are comprehensive in nature with activities ranging from public education and professional training, to screening, treatment and low vision services. Lions’ unending support of SightFirst makes these projects possible.

SightFirst’s diabetic retinopathy accomplishments include:

  • Educating more than 1.5 million people
  • Training more than 2,000 professionals
  • Conducting more than 23,000 surgeries
  • Screening more than 140,000 patients

Donate to LCIF

The Lions Eye Health Program (LEHP) is a community-based eye health education program that empowers Lions clubs, community organizations and individuals to promote healthy vision and raise awareness of the causes of preventable vision loss. The mission of LEHP is to empower communities to save sight through the early detection and timely treatment of glaucoma and diabetic eye disease, encourage those at- risk to undergo a dilated eye exam and educate those with low vision and their caregivers about the condition.

Diabetes contributes to more than 5 million deaths a year, making it the eighth-leading cause of death in the world. And the numbers are rising. Lions and Leos are confronting this global health emergency by raising awareness of diabetes through Strides events, expanding access to care through screening and treatment programs, and improving quality of life through diabetes camps and community recreational programs. We believe we can help prevent and control this global epidemic by uniting Lions and Leos around this cause.

For information on how your club can help, visit http://members.lionsclubs.org/EN/serve/diabetes/index.php.


Touchstone Story #52–Libraries & Schools

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In 1982, the schoolhouse in Nzeeni, Kenya, consisted of mud walls, an open space for a doorway, no windows and a thatched roof. Nzeeni was a flood-prone village of dirt roads, a poverty-stricken hamlet where local children came to school every day regardless of weather conditions. 

William Mutua Kyalo, chairman of the board of governors and overseer of the management of village schools, reached out to Dr. Y.C. Patel, a member of the Nairobi Gigiri Lions Club, for help. Patel helped organize a village meeting. Though resources were scarce, neighbors agreed to help. Locals would bring sand and stones from the river, baking bricks and wood for a new roof. A stonemason whose education Patel had sponsored offered to help construct the new building at cost. A local vegetable merchant who regularly traveled between Nzeeni and Nairobi would bring supplies that couldn’t be sourced locally. 

Within a year, seven classrooms and offices had been constructed. Within two years, four more classrooms had been added, and the new school was named the Nzeeni Lioness Primary School. 

A decade later, a workshop had been added for seventh-grade students, and a science laboratory, dormitories, a kitchen and dining room had been added as part of an expanded Gigiri Lions Girls Secondary School.  

What was once a mud-walled, thatched-roof school had become an education complex named the Nzeeni Lions Village. In 1993, ten years after the transformation began, the Melvin Jones Polytechnic School, named for the Lions Clubs International founder, opened its doors. Rohit Mehta of Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India, 1992-93 international president, attended an opening celebration and was greeted by a musical performance from the Nzeeni locals. Karibu, karibu, they chanted: “Welcome, welcome.” 

Investing in children and education means investing in the future. “Lion Dr. Y.C. Patel and his wife, Lady Lion Surekha, came to the rescue of the people of Nzeeni,” said Kyalo. “When this couple stepped into the village, the people of Nzeeni were very willing to work with them. We can never repay them for what they have done for our village.”  

From gathering books and turning an unused room into a library in East Dubuque, Illinois, in 1937 to building a modern, three-story addition to the Sri Ramakrishna MHS in India in 2010, Lions clubs and Lions Clubs International Foundation have built, adopted and expanded schools around the world since the organization’s founding. As Past District Governor S. Nagin of the Tambaram West Lions Club of India said, “Whatever you do for the cause of education, the youth will come up with [even] greater ideas.” 

Explore the exciting history of Lions Clubs International with our exclusive Touchstone Stories series. They’re a great resource for promoting service at your club meetings!


Bringing Healthy Vision into Focus

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Did you know that 19 million children around the world are visually impaired? Of these, nearly 2 of 3 just need access to simple eyeglasses to correct refractive errors, including myopia (a condition in which distant objects appear blurry). That is why Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) and Johnson & Johnson Vision Care Companies teamed up with local partners to create Sight for Kids, a program that mobilizes eye care professionals and volunteers to conduct vision screenings in low-income schools and provides teachers with eye health training across Asia, Kenya and Turkey.

To date, 150,000 Sight for Kids-trained teachers have screened more than 24.1 million kids for visual impairment. The program has provided free services to 500,000 kids.  Sight for Kids aims to double the total number of children treated to 1 million by 2021.

Donating just US$1 provides four kids with Sight for Kids eye health education and access to vision screenings.

Donate to LCIF


SightFirst Funds Research to Treat Low Vision

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Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) is a leader in providing support for preventing avoidable blindness and restoring sight for people around the world.

With funds raised through Campaign SightFirst II, SightFirst is able to support new project areas aimed at providing “vision for all.” These include vision rehabilitation and education for those who are blind or have low vision, as well as vision research initiatives.

Together with Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB), SightFirst supports groundbreaking research into understanding and treating low vision. The RPB/LCIF Low Vision Research Award provides funding for innovative research meant to yield technologies that will enhance remaining sight for people with low vision.

The most recent RPB/LCIF Low Vision Research Award was granted to Justin Gardner, PhD, Department of Psychology, Stanford University. Dr. Gardner is studying how certain parts of the human brain respond to sight restoration devices, like retinal prostheses and cortical implants. This research will measure and track visual and auditory sensory performance after sight-restoring surgeries such as cataract removal or corneal transplant. Dr. Gardner’s project will have important implications for improving surgical outcomes for people with low vision.

For more information on SightFirst Research grants, visit http://www.lcif.org/EN/our-work/sight/research.php.


Support Vision Care on World Sight Day and Every Day

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World Sight Day (October 12, 2017) is fast approaching! As your club prepares to raise awareness of visual impairment in your community, please keep LCIF and Sight for Kids in mind. Sight for Kids mobilizes local Lions, teachers and eye care professionals to improve eye health awareness and remove eye care barriers to for children in underserved areas across Asia, as well as in Kenya and Turkey – including providing exams, and eye glasses and other treatment. To date, more than 24.1 million children have benefitted from this partnership.

For every photo you share through the Donate a Photo app (USA, United Kingdom and Japan only), Johnson & Johnson will give US$1 to the Sight for Kids program.

You can also download the Charity Miles app and raise money for Sight for Kids just by taking a walk. Both are easy ways to make a big impact around the world.

Please join LCIF and your fellow Lions by showing your support on World Sight Day and every day. Funds donated to LCIF Sight programs support countless sight-related activities including, but not limited to, equipping eye clinics and providing Braille computers for the visually impaired. You can be part of this important work by making a donation to LCIF Sight programs today.

Donate to LCIF


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