Connecting those in need with important services – by Hank Lunsford

Through coordinated community efforts, our program conducts vision screenings for hundreds of kids every year.


The annual Day 4 Hope, which partner’s schools with sponsoring churches, started more than a decade ago. In Sarasota, 38 nonprofit organizations contribute to these back-to-school events to benefit children in need. At the fairs, each child is given a backpack filled with school supplies, including gift certificates for school uniforms and shoes. Additionally, the children receive books and even free haircuts and hair styling. The events are meant for the entire family, where they can get sheriff identification and family portraits taken.

Lions Club Member Hank Lunsford


Health professionals are on hand to perform free physical examinations. Such physicals are mandatory for attending school in Florida. Enter the Sarasota Lions Club: we do the eye screening. Our group screens every child that attends these events—100 to 300 at any given church. In the past, we used traditional eye charts. First, this approach was quite time consuming and frequently problematic. Second, children’s accents would sometimes be a barrier to effective screening. Our population is very diverse, therefore kids may pronounce words differently. Now, using the plusoptiX photoscreening device, we can screen a child in a minute. Furthermore, when we partner with other area Lions, we can screen as many as 600 kids in one day.

Plusoptix Vision Screening at school
Plusoptix Vision Screening at school


Our recent success with vision screening programs has increased our club membership from 17 to 42. Adding to our ranks is an aspect of our outreach that has been particularly rewarding. People are impressed by an easy test that has such a powerful impact. Consequently, Lions Club vision screening programs have motivated many younger people to become volunteers.

We can go out into the field—literal fields—with the plusoptiX portable vision screener. As a result, the Lions are exploring getting a second device to increase the volume of children we can screen. Our programs using the plusoptiX have generated interest in vision screening among local church-based day care providers. In fact, at our first event, we screened 14 kids in 20 minutes, and they had fun with the device.

Plusoptix - Portable Vision Screener
Plusoptix – Mobile Vision Screener


In short, the Plusoptix screener has been an incredible tool. It is medically accurate and it eliminates other barriers like language or needing to physically touch a child. As a result, we can identify potential vision problems in kids early enough so they can be effectively treated. Using device-based screening allows our volunteers to go virtually anywhere and screen large groups effectively and efficiently.



Additionally, please find more information about preventive #visionscreening  on: and also more information about the #Plusoptix Vision Screener on

Furthermore, have a look at to read one of our other very interesting articles about preventive vision screening.


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