The Santa Monica Lions Club would like to thank the Santa Monica community for helping to make our second-annual Lions Eyes Across California event on March 19 at Virginia Avenue Park so successful. People started lining up at 7 a.m. for an event that didn’t start until 9 a.m.

The Santa Monica Lions partnered with the Venice Marina LAX Lions, Miracle Mile Lions and the new West Los Angeles Lions to increase the number of people we were able to serve this year. Using our mobile screening unit, we were able to provide eye screenings to 85 adults, a 12-percent increase from last year, and give away 200 eyeglasses, a 60-percent increase. If the eye screening indicated a potential for eye disease, such as age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma or diabetic retinopathy, we were able to provide free referrals for 15 people to our eye clinic downtown. We also collected 75 used eyeglasses.

We were fortunate to partner with two incredible local nonprofits, The Center for the Partially Sighted (CPS) and Vision To Learn (VTL), so we could offer a wider variety of vision services to people in Santa Monica.

For many older adults that are having age-related vision problems, CPS was able to provide information and assistance on reducing the impact that vision loss has on their everyday lives. The tips and suggestions they offered were greatly appreciated, with five people scheduling appointments to receive personalized help in assessing their needs.

VTL provides eye screenings, exams and free prescription eyeglasses for youth through age 18 to help them see better, improve their reading skills and succeed at school. On Saturday they provided eye screenings for 57 children, gave 26 children full eye exams and will be providing 21 children with custom eyeglasses. In the spirit of VLT’s mission to help children read, the Santa Monica Lions gave them 150 children’s books to hand out to children after their eye screenings. Books not used will be given out when they do screenings at other events.

Another organization, the Westside Center for Independent Living, provided volunteers to help us at the event. In addition to helping with eyeglass distribution, they shared information about their services, which not only help people with vision problems, but also people that are hearing-impaired or have other issues that could threaten their independent living. We are looking forward to learning more about them when they come to speak at a Lions lunch meeting in May.

If you think you might want to help next year on March 18, or might want to become a Lion, contact us at santamonicalion@gmail.com.

Susan Lee DeRemer is president of the Santa Monica Lions Club and vice president of development for the Discovery Eye Foundation.

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