The Rapha Clinic, which provides medical services to financially qualified patients, entered into a partnership last year with the Lions Club to host the free vision clinics at the Temple office and has now extended that partnership to the Bowdon office. The clinics are offered about every other month and plans are to alternate them in the future between the Temple and Bowdon offices.
According to Rapha Clinic Executive Director Sue Brockman, the waiting list to be seen at the Lighthouse Foundation’s Chamblee location is nearly a year long. By offering local clinics, it is more convenient for patients and speeds up the process.
“We’re helping the community by offering a place for the Lighthouse Foundation and the Lions to have a satellite location to have a volunteer optometrist to examine their eyes because if a person in our area had to go get a prescription for eyeglasses that cost would be unaffordable for those who are indigent,” Brockman said.
“We’re glad to participate and offer another service because that’s what Rapha is all about, helping those in need. There are many other needs that we are hopeful to add when money, space and volunteers become available. This is just an added plus as far as we’re concerned that helps our community.”
While the local Lions make up the volunteer labor for the clinics, Dr. Michael Rothschild of West Georgia Eye Care in Carrollton and his colleagues frequently volunteer their services to give complete, dilated eye exams to those who could not otherwise afford them.
“The clinic provides free eye exams and glasses for people who could not otherwise afford an eye exam or glasses,” said Barbara Daniell, president of the Golden City Lions Club. “Vision and hearing are two of the main missions of the Lions Club and this is just one of the projects we do towards that goal, but it is one that really affects our local citizens.”
The equipment for the vision exams are provided by the Lions Lighthouse Foundation, a private non-profit organization that is primarily funded through grants. For more serious eye issues, such as glaucoma, patients are referred to the Lighthouse Foundation’s eye surgery program.
According to Tiffany Ellerbee of the Lions Lighthouse Foundation, there are 23 free vision clinic sites throughout Georgia and the clinics offered in Carroll County are the newest of those.
“They’re very popular,” she said. “We recently got new numbers back and so far this year we’ve served 4,827 people through these clinics.”
The Georgia Lighthouse Foundation is primarily funded by grants, but Lions Clubs across the state provide about 30 percent of their general operating budget through donations. These funds provide equipment used for the free clinics, as well as the eyeglasses and other supplies.
“We really couldn’t get our job done if it wasn’t for them,” Ellerbee said.
A total of 16 patients received complete eye exams and were fitted for glasses at the recent Bowdon clinic. Three others brought eyeglass prescriptions to be filled by the Lighthouse Foundation. Since June 2011, about 110 Carroll County residents have received free vision services at the Lions clinics.
“It’s a real good program because there are people out there who need this kind of help,” Daniell said. “I couldn’t imagine if I had to go around without glasses, so this really does help out a lot.”