Lions Clubs and American Diabetes Association Tackle Diabetes and Blindness in Northern Virginia

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The American Diabetes Association is leading the fight to stop diabetes and its deadly consequences and fighting for those affected by diabetes.

Once we are successful here we plan on moving the program across the State next year,” said Lion Dennis Brining, MD-24 Council Chair.

The Lions of District 24-A (Northern Virginia) and The American Diabetes Association (ADA) National Capital Area have received a Lions Club International Foundation grant to provide health screenings to high at-risk, underserved communities in Fairfax County, Virginia, to reduce the complications of diabetes, especially blindness. Over 90% of adult blindness is caused by poorly managed diabetes.

Screenings will include blood glucose, blood pressure, body-mass index, and retinal imaging provided by the Lions Club and Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind volunteers.

Additional collaborators, local churches, clinics and shelters within Northern Virginia, will work with the Lions Clubs on this pilot project to screen 2500 people. Screening sites, using Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind’s new mobile van, will be selected based on areas with lowest income levels in Fairfax County (Figure 1) and under guidance from the Fairfax Department of Health.

ADA-trained Lions Club volunteers will also provide ongoing patient education on diabetes at community centers to assist those with diabetes manage their disease.

The project goals are to increase screenings, reduce complications of diabetes, provide disease education, and to set the stage for a statewide effort. The program addresses the need for increased availability of disease education to reduce frequent and costly hospitalization of diabetes patients. (“Diabetes in Virginia 2009” report).

About 7.8% of Fairfax County residents have been diagnosed with diabetes but another estimated 25% of the population remains undiagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes. The complications of unmanaged diabetes are blindness, kidney failure, heart and cardiovascular disease. In Virginia, diabetes rates range up to 16% in some counties (Figure 2).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) projects that one in three children born in the last ten years will develop diabetes in their lifetime. If that child is African American or Latino, the odds are one in two.

Inspired by Helen Keller to become “Knights of the Blind,” for nearly 100 years, Lions Clubs International have worked on projects aimed at preventing blindness, restoring eyesight and improving eye care for hundreds of millions of people worldwide. “Forming a strategic partnership with the ADA gives the Lions in 24-A the critical mass to reach the largest number of underserved in the District in the most effective way possible. Once we are successful here we plan on moving the program across the State next year,” said Lion Dennis Brining, MD-24 Council Chair.

This grant will allow the ADA and Lions Clubs members to collaboratively provide diabetes educational resources, diabetes screenings and deliver the message about the gravity of diabetes in northern Virginia,” said Mary Merritt, Executive Director of the Association’s National Capital Area program.

The American Diabetes Association is leading the fight to stop diabetes and its deadly consequences and fighting for those affected by diabetes. The Association funds research to prevent cure and manage diabetes; delivers services to hundreds of communities; provides objective and credible information; and gives voice to those denied their rights because of diabetes. Founded in 1940, the Association’s mission is to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes.

Lions Clubs International is the world’s largest service club organization with more than 1.3 million members in approximately 45,000 clubs in more than 206 countries and geographical areas around the world. Since 1917, Lions clubs have aided the blind and visually impaired and made a strong commitment to community service and serving youth throughout the world. Visit our web site http://www.lionsclubs.org

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Edward Woodard
woodywoodard@cox.net
(703) 451-8508
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Dennis Brining
Lions of Virginia Council of Governors Chairperson
703-503-8019
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