White Cane

White Cane

Oklahoma Lions White Cane & Vision Care Programs

Throughout the world, the long white cane is used by people who are blind or visually impaired as a tool for safe and reliable navigation. The white cane is a symbol of the user’s skills and talents, mobility and independence. It also allows the sighted person to recognize that the user is visually impaired. Several countries have traffic laws designed to protect the person using the white cane. International White Cane Safety Day (October 15th) gives Lions an opportunity to increase awareness of the white cane traffic safety laws. “White Cane Day is observed worldwide to recognize the movement of blind people from dependency to full participation in society.”
While White Cane Safety Day nationally is October 15th however, Oklahoma Lions have traditionally observed White Cane in April. The Oklahoma Lions Service Foundation strives to bring awareness to fellow Oklahomans regarding the issues visually impaired individuals face as well as raise funds to support Oklahoma Lions vision programs.
The Oklahoma Lions Service Foundation (OLSF) is assisting the Oklahoma Lions Eye Bank with a Lions Clubs International Foundation standard matching grant of $75,000.00 for the DSEK project. We have raised the matching portion of $75,000 for a total project budget of $150,000.  
he Oklahoma Lions Eye Bank (OLEB) processed over 600 corneas. Many of these corneas were used in full thickness (PKP) transplants. Only 140 corneas have not been placed for surgeries.

Last year, FY 2016 the OLEB processed over 1000 corneas using 749 for transplant and the rest for research.
The Descemet’s stripping endothelial keratoplasty (DSEK) method is a partial-thickness corneal graft operation in which only the inner endothelial cell layer is replaced, instead of the entire thickness of the cornea. DSEK differs from the PK (Penetrating Keratoplasty) procedure, where the entire endothelial cell layer is replaced. Later known as (DSAEK) the graft is prepared with an automated microkeratome, allowing for easier donor preparation and reproducible results (Eye Bank Association of America. 2013. “A Brief History of Endothelial Keratoplasty”).
OLEB is currently preparing this sterile room for the DSEK procedures. Previously OLEB paid Saving Sight $750.00 per cornea to cut the corneas for transplantation in Oklahoma totaling $66,000.00 last year alone. Now with the $150,000 DSEK campaign fulfilled, OLEB will save $66,000 a year and also be able to perform this procedure for other eye banks in nearby states.
The OLEB is the only eye bank in Oklahoma and no other agency in Oklahoma cuts corneas for transplantation. The OK Lions Eye Bank would be the only one in the state. This means Ok recovered corneas would be processed in state allowing more patients to receive this latest technological procedure for cornea transplantation.
While there are over 47,000 cornea transplants performed in the U.S. in 2014, the need for corneal tissue is never satisfied (LCI). The Oklahoma Lions Eye Bank (OLEB) has advanced tremendously over the last 4 years and is now on the technological forefront to meet an even greater need for cornea tissue.
Oklahoma City Community Foundation Endowment Program for OLEB: Beginning in June, 2016 OLSF will also be raising funds for the matching grant to the Kirkpatrick Family Fund to establish an endowment for the Eye Bank. We will need to raise a minimum of 40K from clubs and individuals for this matching amount. It is vital that we as Lions recognize this effort and show strong support for the sustainability of this much needed program.
Oklahoma Lions Vision Programs: The Oklahoma State Office receives several phone calls a day from fellow Oklahomans desperately needing assistance with vision needs. While we have several agencies and clubs that support this effort, we need to improve our ability to provide services. This year OLSF would like to increase awareness of this need and organize a growth strategy for increasing services. OLSF recognizes and appreciates Lions Clubs that provide services in cooperation with local health care providers. It is our goal to increase these services with the help of Lions throughout the state.

Personally, I have had a scare with almost losing an eye to a serious infection. I was completely blind and could not see for over a week. I am still not able to see as I did before. I could not believe how much of my life was affected. It was not only painful physically, but difficult because I had to rely on others for assistance. As an independent person, this was very difficult. Everything we go through is a learning experience, and for this reason I am grateful. I have small understanding of what it is like to those who are visually impaired and cannot get help (Marie Burns).

As Lions, we need to remember our challenge by Helen Keller, to be “Knights for the Blind”. We need to focus our energy on making this year’s “White Cane” the best year yet!
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