The mission of Special Olympics – Lions Clubs International Opening Eyes is to improve the quality of life for the millions of individuals diagnosed with intellectual disabilities by optimizing their vision, eye health and visual skills through quality eye care.
Objectives of Opening Eyes includes providing screenings to Special Olympic Minnesota athletes, educating athletes, parents and coaches about the importance of regular eye care; educating and changing attitudes of eye care professionals about the vision care needs of persons with intellectual disabilities worldwide; and increasing knowledge of visual and eye health needs of persons with intellectual disabilities through research.
Through a grant from the Lions Clubs International Foundation, the partnership of Special Olympics and Lions Clubs International is dramatically expanding the effort’s scope. The formal partnership encompasses sustained continuous vision screening programs across the world, as well as the development of Train-the-Trainer sessions to create a strong volunteer force of vision health professionals. The partnership enables Opening Eyes to reach one of the world’s most underserved population: those with intellectual disabilities.
With the help of the World Council of Optometry and other organizations, Special Olympics has been able to establish Opening Eyes initiatives in North America, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, China and the Asia Pacific region. The partnership is making a major contribution to vision health in developing nations, reaching people with intellectual disabilities whose needs have gone unmet, while raising the level of the public’s vision health in general.