by Lisa Tome
Most days, Paul McGuigan works as a project engineer.
A couple days a year McGuigan and other members of the Conowingo Lions Club take a vacation day and do the work of an optometrist.
After being trained through a Lions Club program to use a high tech camera which takes pictures of children's eyes, the Lions members go into Bainbridge and Conowingo elementary schools to perform vision screenings. They check younger students, specifically, pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students, and any others that may have been referred for checks by teachers.
Bainbridge school nurse Jennifer Day said that screenings are a great service. "Community outreach at the schools is always important," said Day.
Recently at Bainbridge, McGuigan and Mike Wilson, who works as an exhibit specialist at Aberdeen Proving Ground, were the screeners. They alternated, one sitting with the child being checked and holding hair back if needed, while the other used the camera.
Retired Lion Bobby Banks kept the waiting children entertained. Bob Lange, who works as a project manager, was charged with the task of checking children in for the screenings.
The Plus Optix camera is owned jointly by the county Lions Clubs.
The clubs pass it around depending on where screenings are being held. McGuigan said eye screenings have come a long way.
"Its' evolved quite a bit in the 15 years we have been doing it. We used to take Polaroid pictures. It used to take two or three minutes per child. Now it takes 10-15 seconds," said McGuigan.
Wilson said it can be a challenge to get young children to sit still.
If the camera photos determine that a child needs additional eye screenings, a referral is sent home to parents. If parents can't afford glasses or exams, the Lions Club will pay the tab.