The mission of Special Olympics Lions Club 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.
The objectives of Opening Eyes include:
- Providing screenings to Special Olympics athletes (see schedule of events).
- 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 (see Global Vision Care Curriculum, state-of-the-art science and clinical practice guidelines).
- Increasing knowledge of visual and eye health needs of persons with intellectual disabilities through research.
“The health care needs of Special Olympics athletes have been repeatedly demonstrated and are still alarmingly great,” said Dr. Paul Berman, Opening Eyes Founder and Senior Global Clinical Advisor, and a Board Member of the American Optometric Association.
Research conducted with athletes at Special Olympics events has revealed:
- 68% have had no eye examinations in three years;
- 37% need glasses; and
- 18% of the athletes were wearing clinically incorrect glasses
Opening Eyes events are offered at State Summer Games. Through the generosity of Special Olympics International corporate sponsors Essilor and Safilo, athletes have the option to choose from a selection of free eyewear after completing the 12-step visual exam. Education is provided to help emphasize the importance of vision to the performance of athletes in sports, school and work.
Information for Healthcare Professionals
Interested in becoming a clinical director?
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.