The World Health Organization has estimated that the number of blind people in the world could double by 2040. To combat the leading causes of blindness and assist in preserving vision, the Coon Rapids Lions Club is participating in a Lions World Sight Day activity Oct. 12 to heighten awareness and education about sight preservation and preventable blindness.
The club’s work will also directly benefit the Coon Rapids community and the surrounding area with its fundraising efforts going to support the Minnesota Lions Eye Bank.
Lions World Sight Day is a global vision initiative sponsored by Lions Clubs International and takes place annually on the second Thursday of October in an effort to raise awareness about sight-related issues.
The Coon Rapids club will be joining in this global event by holding its annual White Cane Days event at various locations in Coon Rapids Saturday, Oct. 12.
The Lions will be setting up informational booths at Cub Foods (Riverdale), Rainbow Foods, Jensen’s Foods and Cub Foods (Northdale), providing information on how to help prevent blindness as well as collecting donations for the Minnesota Lions Eye Bank at the University of Minnesota to help pay for the ongoing research and the treatments performed each day at the facility.
The booths will be manned from 8 a.m. to noon Oct. 12.
In addition to collecting donations from the public, the club will be collecting used eyeglasses, used sunglasses, used reading glasses and hearing aids for its ongoing project to bring proper vision and hearing to those in need in other countries.
“It is estimated that 40 million people around the world are blind,” said John Merriam, White Cane Days chairperson.
“To honor Lions World Sight Day and the Coon Rapids Lions’ 60th anniversary, the club is working in unison with other Lions clubs around the world to educate millions of people on the importance of proper eye health care.
“In the United States today, approximately 750,000 people are blind and an additional 50,000 more will lose their sight each year, according to the National Federation of the Blind.
“Like most developed countries, glaucoma and diabetes are the leading causes of blindness in the United States.”
On a worldwide scale, an estimated 75 percent of all the people suffering from blindness are found in Africa and Asia, according to the World Health Organization.
In Africa, there are an estimated 500,000 new cases of cataracts each year, of which only one in 10 is operated on, while in India, 80 percent of the blind suffer from cataracts, with more than 3.8 million new cases reported each year, Merriam said.
“The Coon Rapids Lions Club is a part of this global effort to provide aid at the local level, as well as around the world,” he said.
Since the club’s chartering in 1954, the Lions have worked on a variety of projects, such as the Books for Bango book-giveaway program in the nine public elementary schools in the area each year and the annual Hooked on Fishing, Not Drugs fishing clinic held each May at the Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park.
For more information, contact Dan Janish at 612-558-2851, visit the club’s website at www.coonrapidslions.org or check out the Coon Rapids Lions Club Facebook page.