Focusing on Sight
Orange Lions Club Promotes White Cane Day
The Orange Lions Club advocates its campaign for sight, “Sight First,” with its annual White Cane Day from 8 a.m. until noon, Saturday. Lions will be giving away white canes and collecting used eye glasses along with accepting donations and distributing information about the club’s various sight programs. Visit with a Lion and learn more about the programs at the entrances of Krogers, Walmart and Market Basket in the Northway Shopping Center.
Every year, the Orange Lions Club participates in various programs focused on sight. Representatives from the chapter serve on the board of the Lions Eye Bank of Texas located in Houston at the Baylor College of Medicine. These combined resources create one of the leading eye banks in the United States.
The eye bank provides ocular tissues to surgeons across the Texas Gulf Coast and the United States and throughout North and South America. The Department of Ophthalmology at Baylor provides the clinical resources of corneal specialists and others to assist in oversight, training and quality management of eye banking and corneal transplants. More information about the work performed by The Lions Eye Bank or to make a contribution, visit their website at www.bayloreye.org/eyebank.
In May, Lions Clubs throughout the region join together to organize a fun and beneficial golf tournament to raise funds for the Lions Eye Bank. This year’s tournament is set for Saturday, May 2. Tournament information will be available from Lions during White Cane Day.
Lions Clubs in our community also collect used eyeglasses to provide sight in underdeveloped countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates 153 million people around the world have uncorrected refractive errors (near-sightedness, far-sightedness and astigmatism). Refractive errors can be easily corrected with eyeglasses, yet millions of people in low and middle-income countries lack access to basic services. Collected eyeglasses undergo “processing,” which includes sorting, cleaning, neutralizing or grading (using a lensometer to determine the prescription), categorizing by prescription and packaging in preparation for distribution. Mission teams then deliver them free of charge to people in need in developing countries.
Funds raised by the Orange Lions Club are used in part to support the community by providing financial assistance in purchasing new eyeglasses to improve sight to residents of Orange County. In 2007-2008, the Orange Lions Club assisted in the purchase of 43 pairs of glasses to qualifying individuals.
In 1921, James Biggs, a photographer from Bristol, England, became blind following an accident. Because he was feeling uncomfortable with the amount of traffic around his home, he painted his walking stick white to be more easily visible.
Lions focus on work for the blind and visually impaired began when Helen Keller addressed the International Convention at Cedar Point, Ohio on 30 June 1925 and charged Lions to be Knights to the Blind.
In 1930, the late George A. Bonham, President of the Peoria Lions Club (Illinois) introduced the idea of using the white cane with a red band as a means of assisting the blind in independent mobility. The Peoria Lions approved the idea, white canes were made and distributed, and the Peoria City Council adopted an ordinance giving the bearers the right-of-way to cross the street. News of the club’s activity spread quickly to other Lions clubs throughout the United States, and their visually handicapped friends experimented with the white canes. Overwhelming acceptance of the white cane idea by the blind and sighted alike quickly gave cane users a unique method of identifying their special need for travel consideration among their sighted counterparts.