The Long and the Short of It
Lions know how to cook. Lions know how to deliver food boxes or sell raffle tickets. Lions know how to put on a talent show, or paint someone’s house, or build a park. Lions know how to organize a trip to Kerrville to deliver children to camp and how to collect glasses (etc. etc. etc.). That’s why we can always get a group of Lions together to make all of these wonderful service and fund raising projects happen.
However, although we are Knights of the Blind, most Lions know very little about vision and refractive optometry. That’s one major reason why so few clubs or districts are willing to set up regular adult or child eye screenings in their Districts, or set up a sorting and reading (of used glasses) program, or go on a mission to help the Lions Clubs in developing nations set up eye programs. The long and the short of it is that most people don’t get involved in something because they fear the unknown. In this case, the long and the short of it is they don’t know the long and the short of it!
I’ll explain that in just a minute.
Not knowing much about how the eye works and, therefore, not understanding refractive optics and the tools/machines used by professionals to determine the refractive status of the eye always caused me a little trepidation about helping someone find a used pair of glasses that was near to their actual need. That’s why TLERC offers its monthly “Visual Screening Course” (Starts the Thursday before the 3rd Saturday each month in Midland at TLERC). You need to call ahead to get a reservation for the class, but once you and a few of your fellow Lions go through this, you can bring a wonderful service to the poor adults in your community or District.
The course takes you from the basic anatomy and physiology of the eye, to the clinical system used to set up an adult eye screening, to how to use all of the equipment in the screening “lane”, to finding a pair that most nearly fits the person’s need. The class ends on Saturday with a practical clinical exercise (i.e. the students help TLERC and the Midland area Lions Clubs with their monthly adult clinic on Saturday morning before they head back home). Once I understood how the eye works and what goes wrong that makes things “fuzzy”, it was pretty easy for me to understand the refractive optics used in glasses. For example, a camera and the eye are very similar. The light through the lens has to focus on a specific spot or the picture is fuzzy. With the camera when objects are to fuzzy, we can mechanically adjust the focal length of the lens so it focuses on the film. We can’t really do much to change the focal length in our eyes, especially as we get older. So if the light coming through our lens falls in front of the retina (called nearsightedness or myopia) or focuses behind the retina (called farsightedness or hyperopia) things are out of focus. This may happen because the eyeball is too long (nearsighted) or too short (farsighted). So by using different shapes and thicknesses of lenses, a pair of glasses redirects the light so that it focuses further back (correcting nearsightedness) or closer (correcting farsightedness).
This may be oversimplified and not 100% technically accurate, but it sure helps me understand what I am trying to do when pulling glasses, or getting a reading on a lensometer, focometer or autorefractor. If you come to TLERC’s classes it will help you “to serve”…..and that’s the Long and the Short of it!