Students stared into a small black box, focusing on green and blue blinking lights.
Set up in a dimly-lit gym at Auburn Middle School, 10 local Lions Club members tested students’ vision and hearing on Friday.
Using new $7,000 electronic Spot Vision Screeners, the sight tests took only about five seconds each for volunteers to complete.
Funded partially with a PATH Foundation grant, the organization’s new vision machines and audiometers allowed testing of 178 seventh-graders in three hours.
With older equipment, the screenings would have taken about two days, according to Warrenton Sunrise Lions Club President Erl Poulin.
The Warrenton Lions Club and the Warrenton Sunrise Lions Club have conducted the hearing and sight tests for about six years.
This year the organizations plan to visit 19 public schools and Head Start from September to mid-November.
The clubs jointly provided vision and hearing screenings for about 2,800 students last year. The organizations also conduct screenings at local health fairs and festivals.
The vision machines test students for several eye issues, including blurred vision, farsightedness, nearsightedness and astigmatism. They can test children as young as 6 months old.
“We assess; we do not diagnose,” Mr. Poulin said. “The whole point is to catch any issues early.
“Quite often, parents don’t know,” their children have hearing or vision issues.
Seventh-grader Haley Balgavy, 12, took the hearing test, which involved raising her hand when she heard different pitched sounds through headphones.
“It helped me know if my hearing was bad, because sometimes I think I can’t hear people and wondering if my hearing is bad,” Haley said.
But she passed the test with flying colors.
Once tested, students who may have issues receive information that suggests visiting to an eye or ear doctor for full diagnosis.
The Lions Club also provides funding if families cannot afford examinations, glasses or hearing aides.
“When you work in the community, you find there is a lot more need than you realize,” Warrenton Lion Geraldine Cornelius said.
About 350 Fauquier students receive vision referrals each year as a result of the testing. The clubs provide about 250 referrals for hearing issues each year.
“There’s a real need for youth to learn the importance of hearing protection around loud noises,” Sunrise club member Richard Baker said.
This May, the Warrenton Lions Club received an $8,616 grant from the PATH Foundation to purchase more modern sight and hearing equipment.
The club used that grant to buy two audiometers and to partially fund a vision machine.
An audiometer can cost $3,000 a piece, while the new vision machines cost about $7,000.
The club relies on community support through fundraisers and donations to purchase the equipment.
Every fall, the Warrenton Sunrise Lions Club sells shrimp. Last year the club raised about $4,000 through the sale, which helped partially fund a vision-screening machine and 15 eye exams through Walmart.
The Warrenton Lions Club each year sells fruit to raise money.
Both clubs also collect change in jars through its “Pennies for Sight” program at local stores.
“All donations go into activity funds and is spent on service work,” Mr. Poulin said.
The Lions Club International got involved with hearing and vision programs in 1925, when Helen Keller challenged the Lions to become “knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness.”