What is Opening Eyes?

The Special Olympics Lions Clubs International Opening Eyes program is changing lives in communities across the globe by providing comprehensive eye assessments, prescription eyewear, sunglasses and sports goggles to Special Olympics athletes and people with intellectual disabilities in general.

Purpose and goals

There are several ways that the Opening Eyes program helps increase athletes’ access to care:

  1. Providing vision exams, refractions, and dispensing of appropriate eyewear to athletes during Special Olympics events.
  2. Making permanent changes in the attitudes of the optometrists/eyecare practitioners and optometry students who volunteer to participate in the Opening Eyes vision exams.
  3. Educating athletes, their guardians, coaches, and administrators about the importance of vision to the performance of athletes in sports, school, and work.
  4. Providing continuing education to our volunteer optometrists/eyecare practitioners to familiarize them with the best techniques for testing this patient population.
  5. Collecting and analyzing screening data to raise awareness and to advocate for improved eye care for people with intellectual disabilities.

Importance and impact

Opening Eyes examinations have found that a large percentage of Special Olympics athletes in the U.S. have untreated eye problems.

4% have never had an eye exam

17% have an eye disease

48% need new prescription glasses

Clinical Directors

Clinical Directors are an important part of the Healthy Athletes Opening Eyes team. Clinical Directors are responsible for working with their local Special Olympics Program and other volunteer health professionals in coordinating an Opening Eyes event in their region.

View Clinical Director Manual

Jeff Prendergast
Health Programs Coordinator
[email protected]