Ann Hidges, left, tries to keep Georgia Watkins still as Lions Club member Jim Larson uses a new device to check the eyes of children as young as five months at the North Mississippi Medical Center Child Care Center.

TUPELO - Young children around Lee County may be spying lots of Lions with their little eyes.

The Tupelo Lions Club is bringing a portable vision screening to children in hopes of identifying common eye problems long before children enter kindergarten.

“Our goal is to screen every child in Lee County and go from there,” said Jim Bush, a member of the Tupelo Lions Club. “We want to find problems early so they can be referred to an eye doctor.”

The Plus Optix can screen for three different kinds of common eye problems, Bush said. It can detect the early signs of amblyopia, or lazy eye, in children as young as 6 months.

“It’s new technology,” Bush said.

The screening itself takes about 30 seconds, Bush said. The machine indicates if a child needs to be referred and prints a slip with a description to take to the eye doctor. The Tupelo club has four people trained to conduct the screenings.

On Wednesday, the Lions brought the vision screening to the North Mississippi Medical Center child care center to check about 50 children.

“It’s our second time to use it,” Bush said.

The club purchased the $7,000 vision screener with help from Lions International. The club raised half of the funds selling cheese and sausage at the monthly Tupelo Flea Market, Bush said. The international organization provided a grant to cover the rest of the costs.

The club is offering the screening free of charge to day care centers and schools, Bush said. They are also open to partnering with other organizations to make the screening available.

The screenings are part of the larger mission for the Tupelo club and Lions International. The local club offers vision screening twice a month at the Tree of Life free clinic in Tupelo and assists those without resources with eye care.

For more information about the screenings, contact Bush at (662) 678-6106.

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