Four Union County optometrists who are bringing the world into sharper focus for the less fortunate are winning international acclaim.

Spencer Luke and Dan Beckner of Apple Eyecare in Island City and Sam Kimball and David Glabe of La Grande Family Eye Care, all doctors of optometry, have received the Lions Club International’s prestigious Centennial Presidential Award. The award is one of 250 being given out throughout the world by Lions Club International as part of its centennial celebration.

The honor recognizes Luke, Beckner, Kimball and Glabe for founding the Community Eye Clinic based at the Center for Human Development. The doctors volunteer their time and services at the clinic, which opened in 2014 and provides free eye exams and eyeglasses for low-income individuals.

“Very, very few volunteer eye clinics like this one have been created,” said Sharon Rollins of Tigard, a state Lion Clubs International official.

Rollins said the Community Eye Clinic is the only one she knows of in Oregon run by health care professionals volunteering their time.

“It is extremely inspiring,” said Rollins, who recently traveled to La Grande to present the award along with state Lions Clubs International officials Judith Poage of Hood River and Phyllis Carlin of Redmond.

The clinic has provided free exams to almost 450 individuals and about 400 pairs of free eyeglasses to adults since it opened. In the process, the doctors have helped save the sight of many. Between 20 and 30 percent of the patients have been found to have eye conditions or diseases that require medical treatment and monitoring, Kimball said.

This means that over the last four years, around 120 people with potentially blinding conditions — who may have otherwise skipped or put off eye care because they could not afford an eye exam — have been directed to eye care professionals.

“Many of these patients had no idea they had anything more serious than just needing new glasses,” Dr. Kimball said.

See complete story in Friday's Observer

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