High Country residents are invited to have their eyes and ears examined for free when the Boone Area Lions Club hosts the NC  Lions Mobile Screening Unit.

 Screening will take place on Saturday, June 19 from  9:30 am to 4:00 pm. 

A new minivan will carry all of the required equipment, and visual and hearing testing will be conducted inside the Watauga County Agricultural Conference Center, 252 Poplar Grove Road  in Boone.

New equipment will also allow testing of children from 6 months up as well as for adults. Masks are required and all virus protections will be followed.

The Screening  is a statewide project of North Carolina Lions, Inc. and is putting an emphasis on early childhood screening by expanding the partnership with the national “Lions Kid Sight Program” so that they can catch eye problems early in a child’s life.

The service will only be a screening not a full eye examination and includes a visual acuity test to test both near and far vision, a field vision test to see how well a person sees motion in the field of vision while looking at a fixed object, and a pressure check for the possibility of glaucoma.  If other eye problems are discovered by an on-site examination by an eye care professional, the person will be referred for further examination to a professional eye care specialist of his or her choice.

Trained Lions club members will administer the tests, and examinations will be given by Dr. Joshua Paschall of Greystone Eye Care and Dr. Savannah Sheets, Western Carolina Eye Care. The screening lasts no more than 20 minutes and is an important part of the early detection of serious eye problems.

 Lions Clubs also collect and recycle glasses and hearing aids for individuals in third world countries. There will be a collection box available for donations at the screening. Donations may also be made at vision center offices and the public library in Boone.

The World Health Organization estimates that the eyesight of one-fourth of the world's population can be improved through the use of corrective lenses. Unfortunately, for many, a pair of glasses is both unaffordable and inaccessible. Used eyeglasses that are collected by Lions are recycled at one of nine Lions Eyeglass Recycling Centers throughout the world. The used eyeglasses are cleaned, repaired, and classified by prescription. The eyeglasses are then distributed to those in need by Lion volunteers and other organizations hosting optical missions in developing countries.

In the United States, approximately 750,000 people are blind and an additional 50,000 more will become blind each year, according to the National Federation of the Blind. Like most countries, glaucoma and diabetes are the leading causes of blindness in the United States.

The International Association of Lions Clubs was established in 1917 in Chicago. In 1925, Helen Keller addressed the Lions international convention and challenged Lions to become "knights of the blind in the crusade against darknes." From this time, Lions clubs have been actively involved in service to the blind and visually impaired.

Lions clubs meet the needs of their local communities and the world. Over 1.3 million men and women in over 200 countries and geographic areas conduct vision and health screenings, build parks, support eye hospitals, award scholarships, assist youth, provide help in time of disaster and much more.

The Boone Area Lions Club meets on the first and third Tuesdays at 12:00 pm at the Sagebrush Steak House. They plan to resume regular meetings in July.

For more information about the Boone Area Lions Club or the Vision Van, call  Betsy Anderson at 828-262-0808.