Research has shown that among Special Olympics athletes, 68% have not had an eye examination in three years, 37% are in need of eyeglasses and 18% wear clinically incorrect eyeglasses. The disabled are a largely underserved group when it comes to vision care. They deserve, and should have access to quality care that is appropriate to their particular needs.
That is why LCIF and Special Olympics began a partnership in 2001 to provide free vision screenings at select Special Olympics sporting events worldwide.
Athletes also receive diagnosis for vision-related problems, corrective and protective eyewear, and are taught how to take better care of their eyes.
A successful collaborative effort, the Special Olympics Lions Clubs International Opening Eyes program relies on thousands of volunteer Lions, doctors, vision specialists and educators. More than 370,000 athletes have been screened, with prescription eyewear provided to 161,000 athletes.
Since the partnership began, LCI has awarded $23 million in grant funding.
The longstanding partnership between LCIF and Special Olympics recently expanded. Beyond vision screenings and prescription eyeglasses, this five-year expansion, known as “Mission Inclusion” is creating programs to support acceptance of people with intellectual disabilities within their communities.
Special Olympics and Lions Clubs International continue to work to show that individuals with intellectual disabilities have core talents and abilities that they long to offer to their communities. Both on and off the playing fields, Special Olympics and Lions continue to team up to create social inclusion.