By Debbie Adams
The Vinton Breakfast Lions Club is one of the busiest organizations in Vinton, and each year one
of its projects which touches many lives is the vision screenings the members conduct at local
private preschools and public schools.
This fall Denny Dickens and other Lion volunteers have completed 1,119 vision screenings at
W.E. Cundiff, Bonsack, Troutville, and Herman L. Horn Elementary Schools and at William
Byrd Middle and High Schools.
The most recent screening was at Herman L. Horn on Oct. 13; Dickens and Lions Club President
Jeff Mason screened 152 students in grades preschool, kindergarten, third grade, and anyone new
in Roanoke County schools. In the upper grades, they screen seventh and tenth graders and those
new to the county.
At Herman L. Horn, parents and volunteers from Vinton Baptist Church assisted with the
In spring 2024, the Lions will be completing vision screenings in four or five private preschools.
Dickens says that usually about 10% of the vision screenings result in referrals to the school
nurse who notifies parents that the child needs further evaluation by a professional of their
choice. So far this fall, the Lions Club screenings have resulted in 161 referrals.
Lions Clubs are best known around the world for their dedication to programs involving vision.
Their mission began in 1925 when Helen Keller addressed their convention and challenged them
to become “Knights of the Blind.”
The Vinton Breakfast Lions Club members have carried on that goal of preserving and protecting
eyesight since around the year 2005. Dickens started doing the screenings in 2007 with Roanoke
When the Lions initially began the screenings, the technology consisted of a Polaroid camera
with special film. Photos were taken and then screened individually by Vinton optometrist Dr.
Neal Jessup. Tremendous advances have occurred in the years since.
Currently, the Lions use the Welch Allyn Spot Vision Screeners, described by the company as
“handheld, portable devices designed to help users quickly and easily detect vision issues on
patients from 6 months of age through adult. The camera screens both eyes at once from a
nonthreatening three-foot distance in just moments.”
An infrared light is projected through the eye pupil onto the retina and captures the vision data,
which appears on the camera display screen. The cameras can detect near-sightedness, far-
sightedness, unequal refractive power, blurred vision and eye structure problems like
astigmatism, pupil size deviations, and eye misalignment.
The Spot Vision cameras make the process quicker and less complicated and have vastly
improved the accuracy of the screening process. The cameras are virtually foolproof and even
the most distractible student can remain engaged for the few seconds that it takes to complete the
screening by gazing into the camera with its flashing lights.
Students who already have glasses or contact lenses can be screened with the camera as well.
The Lions use a wireless printer with the vision screener to print out results of only those who
need to be evaluated further and pass those pages along to the school, who sends them home.
The Vinton Breakfast Lions were invited to Rosie’s Gaming Emporium in Vinton on Oct. 11 to
accept a check for $5,000 to be used in a variety of community service projects. Rosie’s General
Manager Todd Lear presented the check as part of the “Rosie’s Gives Back” program. The
donation was accepted by Breakfast Lions Gary Myers, Bob Benninger, Chris McCarty, Zach
McCarty, Steve Haldren, and John Berry.
Rosie’s is a well-known community partner in Vinton. It has made generous contributions
totaling $100,000 each year to a host of causes in the area, as well as sponsoring numerous local
events – and sending employees to serve as volunteers for them.
Organizations only need apply to be considered for a donation as part of Rosie’s philosophy of
investing in the growth and quality of life in the communities where they are located.