Lions Vision Services improves health and wellness by expanding access to vision-related health care in every county across South Carolina in a way that addresses systemic inequity for people with lower household incomes by improving their quality of life.
Studies estimate that the economic burden of vision loss and eye disorders in the United States has surpassed $139 billion, with a $2-3 billion burden in South Carolina alone. People with severe vision impairment are more likely to have diabetes, arthritis, and mobility issues, among many others. Vision loss is related to isolation, balance problems, falls and fall-related injuries, and risk of early death.
The number of blind and visually impaired persons is expected to double by 2030 without effective intervention.
Vision and eye health sits at a pivotal intersection of social determinants of health and serves as an insightful bellwether of other health conditions within a population, including mental health. Addressing vision health first will empower the individuals we serve to more confidently and effectively take control of their overall health and wellbeing. Without immediate and ongoing action to address our community’s vision health needs, the coming decade will create an unprecedented strain on a fragile public health system through the developing spike in vision loss, which will impact the most vulnerable among us most severely.
You can learn more about vision health in South Carolina through the CDC’s Vision Health Initiative.
South Carolina has consistently demonstrated an unwillingness to address access to healthcare through available government programs. South Carolinians are more likely to be uninsured compared to the nationwide population. There is currently a gap in coverage for individuals who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to qualify for premium tax credits under Marketplace coverage.
It is not reasonable to expect that families at this income level can adequately address vision impairments, let alone preventative care which could have addressed vision loss earlier and more effectively.
Our programs provide a proven methodology to create permanent positive change in the lives of the blind and visually impaired who need it most. These programs are aligned with three Sustainable Development Goals, and UN Resolution A/RES/75/310 is now the first agreement designed to tackle preventable sight loss to be adopted at the United Nations and enshrines eye health as part of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
What began in 1969 as an effort by the Lions of South Carolina to take collective action that would enable more service to those in the blind and visually impaired community who lacked the financial means to secure adequate medical attention has become a regional force for sight conservation.
To ensure the organization’s continued efficiency in accomplishing its mission, the Board of Directors has adopted a multi-year strategic plan to guide Lions Vision Services through the year 2022 and create the foundation for the next fifty years of service. That plan centers around five goals:
1. Advance Lions Vision Services’ long-term financial position through annual fund development plans and exploration of a future major fundraising effort.
2. Diversify, enrich, and expand board member recruitment and involvement.
3. Complete a comprehensive review of and recommendation for all Lions Vision Services programs and services.
4. Deepen relationships with individual Lions, Lions Clubs, Districts, and the Multiple District to increase knowledge, effectiveness and capacity for collective action.
5. Create and implement a meaningful recognition of the 50th anniversary of Lions Vision Services in 2019.
To learn more about our future and the details of this plan, read our full Strategic Plan.