By Kris Leonhardt
MARSHFIELD — In a great number of developing countries, eye care is either nonexistent or unaffordable. An eye exam might require a full month’s wages and long waiting periods while doctors crisscross large territories. In addition, many of these countries lack the means to manufacture eyeglass lenses and cannot incur the cost of importing them.
Worldwide, one in four children cannot see well enough to read, and 90 percent of adults over age 40 experience a decrease in their vision and require eyeglasses. Gone untreated, poor vision leads to a stagnant life for many in developing nations, but local Lions Club members are working to change that.
“‘We serve’ is our Lions International motto,” said Marshfield Lion Steve McCabe. “And, boy, did the Wisconsin Lions Missions ever serve this past February. Thirty-one Wisconsin Lions served from Feb. 12-17 in the city of Leon, Nicaragua.
“Some 3,500 used eyeglasses — provided by our Wisconsin Lions Eyeglass Recycling Center near Rosholt — were distributed to the poor of Leon and its suburbs.”
“It always amazes he how the Nicaraguan people will patiently stand in line for up to six hours with their small children,” said McCabe.
The glasses used in the mission were gathered through the Lions Recycle for Sight used eyeglass program, which offers multiple collection sites in Marshfield. The glasses are then sent to the Lions Recycling Center, where they are sorted, cleaned, categorized by prescription, and prepared for distribution. Lions on mission trips then dispense the glasses to those in need.
Central Wisconsin Lions Club participants in the February mission trip were McCabe and his wife Annette, Jim and Pauline Schiferl, Alan and Mary Griepentrog, and Dr. Lance and Cheryl Lubach.
Marshfield Lions Club eyeglass collection locations are at the Everett Roehl Marshfield Public Library, Marshfield Clinic Ophthalmology Department, Marshfield Clinic Optical Shop, Marshfield Clinic Eye Center, Goodwill, Shopko Optical, Joey’s Optical, Marshfield Police Department, BMO Harris Bank, Associated Bank, Eye Care Center of Marshfield, St. Vincent de Paul Outreach, 606 South Walnut Apartments, Cedar Rail Apartments, Rembs Funeral Home, Hansen-Schilling Funeral Home, and Blood Center of Wisconsin.