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Special Olympics Minnesota Athletes Take Part in Free Vision Screening at Lions Club International Annual Convention

Saturday, September 19, 2009 General News J E 4
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MINNEAPOLIS, July 8 More than 45 Special Olympics Minnesota athletes with intellectual disabilities will take part in a special vision screening as part of a demonstration at the Lions Club International convention being held this week in Minneapolis.

Worldwide Special Olympics programs provide a variety of free health screenings to athletes as part of the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes program. Lions Club International is the primary sponsor of the Healthy Athletes Opening Eyes program around the world and holds a screening at their annual convention each year to showcase the program to Lions Club members from the around the world.

Special Olympics Minnesota offers seven free Healthy Athletes programs to the state's participants throughout the year, and has been providing Opening Eyes screenings to any Minnesotans with intellectual disabilities since 2002. Thanks to the support of the Lions Club nearly 2,000 athletes have been screened since 2002 and more than 565 pairs of glasses and nearly 450 pairs of sunglasses have been distributed.

During Opening Eyes screenings, athletes are not only provided with free vision screening, but also prescription eyewear and/or protective sports goggles. At many Opening Eyes events, including the Lions Club Convention demonstration screening, glasses are cut on site and athletes receive them within an hour of their screening. People with intellectual disabilities are 40% more likely to have a preventable secondary health condition which is not addressed because they either do not have access to health care, or may not be receiving appropriate care during health visits because of treatment barriers which are addressed by the Healthy Athletes program.

The objectives of the Healthy Athletes Opening Eyes program include providing free screenings to people with intellectual disabilities; educating athletes, parents and coaches about the importance of regular eye care; educating eye care professionals about the vision care needs of people with intellectual disabilities; and increasing industry knowledge of the needs of persons with intellectual disabilities through research.

Special Olympics Minnesota offers children and adults with intellectual disabilities year-round sports training and competition. Through Special Olympics' athletic, health and leadership programs, people with intellectual disabilities transform themselves, their communities and the world.

SOURCE Special Olympics Minnesota
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