Charles “Charlie” Miehe received the Helmer Lecy Sight Award at the 2013 Wisconsin Lions Club convention in May.
For more than 14 years, Miehe has been testing children for eyesight issues. Charlie and wife Carol, along with fellow Belmont Lion Don Cunningham and son-in-law Kris Fure. have screened nearly 2,000 kids a year.
Miehe attended with Carol, daughter Mary and son-in-law Kris Fure, and grandchildren Tessa and Mitchell.
During his acceptance of the award, Miehe thanked the late Milford Thompson, the former Wisconsin District governor who got him interested in eye screening. Miehe also thanked Bob Chambers of Seneca, Kurt Miese of Muscoda, Keith Ginner of Monroe, and Lori Short of Iowa Kidsight and others for their help over the years.
The Miehes find an average of 1 in 10 younger than 10 have some type of problem with vision. Approximately 5 percent of adults have what is called “lazy eye,” where one eye is much stronger than the other. This condition will cause the nerves in the weaker eye to die. If detected by age 7 or 8, it can be corrected; if not, the condition is not reversible.
Miehe said kids as young as 6 months can be screened successfully. Ideally, kids are screened at ages 3 to 6 and at age 9, the ages when most issues in children show up.
Miehe recommends that schools, preschools, or churches offer screening to kids at the time of school registration. This gives doctors the best chance of correcting problems. The child’s parents also are there to see the results for themselves, which usually gets the fastest treatments.
Miehe recalled a child from Humpty Dumpty day care in Darlington was screened showing a problem. Today, that graduating senior, Andrew Kelly, uses his perfect vision to play basketball and baseball without eyeglasses.
Miehe also mentioned the story of Scott and Connie Wright and their twin daughters. Scott had mentioned that from an early age one of his 2-year-old daughters never liked reading or watching TV. After being screened, Maggie, one of the twins, was referred to an eye doctor. Glasses were prescribed and Maggie’s vision was corrected. Kylie later got glasses, and now both are on the eighth-grade distinguished honors list.
The screenings are quick and simple. A battery operated camera similar to a Polaroid camera takes two pictures on one print, rotating 90 degrees between the pictures. The pictures will show nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, misalignment, unbalanced vision and several other irregularities.
Miehe maintains the camera with the help of Applied Micro in Platteville. He found out that it was best to keep the camera screener in a plastic bag while in the case. He said that this keeps the foam insulation dust from shorting out the switches.
In addition to performing the screenings and doing maintenance, Miehe has also trained other Lions clubs on how to perform the screenings on their own.
Charlie and Carol mentioned that an estimated 85 percent of a child’s learning involves vision. Given that 1 in 10 children have eyesight issues, a large number of children struggle needlessly.
The Miehes encourage Lions all over America to help screen youngsters for vision problems. A binder full of thank you letters throughout the past 14 years clearly shows the impact on the lives the Miehes (and the Belmont team) have had. A little effort goes a long ways in the “eyes” of the beholder.