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University of Iowa News Release

April 1, 2004

UI, Lions Club Vision-Screening Project Recognized

A pioneering program that has screened thousands of young children for vision problems recently received an "Above and Beyond" award from Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack.

"Coming To Your Senses" is a joint vision-screening project of the University of Iowa Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and the Lions Clubs of Iowa. A March 29 ceremony at the Iowa State Historical Building in Des Moines honored the recipients, and the program organizers received a certificate of appreciation from Gov. Vilsack and Lt. Gov. Sally Pederson.

The "Above and Beyond" Recognition Program was created to recognize those who have demonstrated outstanding service in advancing the wellbeing of Iowa children in the area of health care. "Coming To Your Senses" provides free vision screenings for infants and young children throughout Iowa. Trained Lions Club volunteers use a special camera to take photographs of the children's eyes. Early detection through vision screening is a crucial step in protecting a child's eyesight.

Registered nurses Kim Davis and Lori Hoch, and Janice Nielsen of the West Central Development Corporation Head Start from Moorehead, Iowa, nominated Lori Short and Diane Eglseder to receive the award on behalf of "Coming To Your Senses."

"'Coming To Your Senses' does an excellent job of catching problems that would otherwise have gone unnoticed. The program has screened 26 of our 27 centers," Davis said. "The Lions volunteers do a great job of making the children feel at ease."

"An incredible force of Iowa Lions Club Volunteers makes this program possible. More than 1,400 have been trained to conduct vision screenings in their local Iowa communities. This particular award stems from the good work of a very dedicated group of Lions Club Volunteers in Villisca, Iowa," said Short, coordinator of the "Coming To Your Senses" program.

Vision problems are not always evident by simply looking at a child. The screening process helps detect conditions such as misaligned eyes, cataracts and problems that need correction with eyeglasses. With each day that eye problems go undetected and untreated, a child's vision may deteriorate to the point of irreversibility.

According to Eglseder, a "Coming To Your Senses" project assistant, "Many people do not realize that these conditions can be detected in a child as young as six months old. Early detection and intervention are important to the success of the treatment."

The earlier these conditions are detected, the more easily and successfully they can be treated. An estimated 7,800 children in Iowa under age four have poor vision in at least one eye.

Since the "Coming To Your Sense" program began in May 2000, 27,289 children in Iowa have received screenings. More than 1,357 of these children were referred to local eye care professionals.

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STORY SOURCE: Joint Office for Marketing and Communications, University of Iowa Health Care, 200 Hawkins Drive, Room E110 GH, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1009

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Moore, 319-356-3945,