By Nelson Winterburn
Published: April. 20, 2012
In 1925 Lions International Convention, Helen Keller, the guest speaker, said:
… you who are strong and brave and kind. Will you not constitute yourself Knights of the Blind in the crusade against darkness?
And from that time onward, Lions International has had as one of its mandates the restoration and preservation of sight.
Lions is a leader in providing support for preventing avoidable blindness and restoring sight for people around the world.
Our sight programs range from developing and improving eye care systems to providing sight-restoring surgeries and treatments to distributing medications to those most at-risk for eye diseases.
Lions began providing support for eye banks more than 60 years ago. Today, there are Lions eye banks in 13 countries.
Through the dedication and commitment of Lions, thousands of men, women, and children have received the “gift of sight.”
• Lions serve the international community
• The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that corneal transplants could restore
• the vision of 11 million people worldwide.
• Since eye banks do not exist in every country, Lions eye banks often provide healthy
• corneas to eye doctors in other countries including the Caribbean, Central and South
• America, and Viet Nam.
• Canadian donors are asked to sign a donor card and indicate their intentions to family
The increasing number of corneal transplants brought about the need for a storage system for
In 1944, New York City eye doctor, R. Townley Paton, M.D., with the help of the Staten Island Central Lions, New York, USA, established the world’s first eye bank.
The Eye-Bank for Sight Restoration. Paton’s non-profit agency provided a system for recovering, processing, and distributing corneas to doctors for transplantation.
SightFirst: Lions’ Vision for All
Since its inception in 1990, the SightFirst program has played a key role in reducing blindness worldwide. It is only through the collaborative efforts of Lions, our partners, local health authorities, eye care professionals and other non-governmental organizations that Sight First has been able to help 30 million people have improved or restored vision.
SightFirst serves as a leading member of VISION 2020, the global initiative for the elimination of avoidable blindness.
With a focus on building comprehensive and sustainable eye care systems, SightFirst provides funding for projects that deliver eye care services, build or strengthen eye care facilities, train professionals and build awareness about eye health in underserved communities.
Through fundraising campaigns, Lions are investing US$415 million in the SightFirst program to extend its services to even more people in need throughout the world.
With an average cost of just US$6 to help restore a person’s vision or prevent blindness, millions more will be given the gift of sight.
Many of LCIF’s sight initiatives are the result of strong partnerships with groups that share our dedication to preserving sight. In order to improve eye health, SightFirst is committed to understanding the causes, impacts and solutions to the world’s major eye issues and diseases.
LIONS JOURNEY FOR SIGHT
This is a localized fund raising program that partners with the CNIB (The Canadian National Institute for the Blind. Usually held during the month of May, the ‘Journey’ involves a walk/ cycle/run event wherein participants will solicit pledges for their completed journey on a
designated course. In the past the Squamish Lions Club has held journeys from the Railway Heritage Park downriver on the dike, around the Nexen Lands, and through the trails between the Rec Center and the Adventure Center.