Youth Villages AmeriCorp volunteer at Lighthouse RecEYEcling Center

Despite the gloomy and rainy weather this morning, 14 Youth Villages AmeriCorp volunteers braved the storm to volunteer in our Lighthouse RecEYEcling Center at our Chamblee headquarters. At last count, the team had just passed over 1200 pairs of eyeglasses washed and showed no signs of stopping. WOW! Thanks to their brave team, those in need overseas will have the opportunity to receive a pair of prescription eye and sunglasses that they so desperately need to work and protect their vision.

About Youth Villages AmeriCorp 

“Since 2000, the Youth Villages AmeriCorps program has provided literacy and life skills tutoring, afterschool and summer programming, service learning, and classroom assistance to students at the Youth Villages Inner Harbour Campus. Youth Villages AmeriCorps also supports local nonprofits and community organizations through projects on Service Fridays, in addition to acting as first responders for disaster relief in the state of Georgia.

Recently selected as Volunteer Team of the Year for the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Atlanta and as a finalist for both the America’s Service Commissions’ Innovation and Leadership Award and the Corporation for National and Community Service’s Service Impact Award, Youth Villages AmeriCorps embraces a strong ethic of service and commitment to support each other, the children served by Youth Villages, and our greater community. ”

Source: Youth Villages AmeriCorp Facebook

Fun Fact from Today!

One of the AmeriCorp volunteers happened upon a pair of recycled glasses that just so happened to be her prescription! Take a look on our Facebook to see some of the pictures from today’s event!

Thank You!

We would like to take this time to thank the volunteer from the Youth Villages AmeriCorp for spending the morning with us washing glasses for those in need. We love our AmeriCorp VISTAS and all their hard work  and it is always an awesome sight to see other AmeriCorp groups doing so much good for those in need.

Connect with the Lighthouse!

If you or a group are interested in volunteering with Lighthouse, please visit our Get Involved page on our website at, and connect with us on social media like Twitter and Facebook VIA @LionsLighthouse #GLLF

Following Up: The Annual Eye Exam

Like any thoughtful healthcare organization, we like to follow up on the wellness of our patients.

When was the last time you went to your local optometrist? If your answer is, “I see fine” or “I have never encountered any problems with my sight, so why should I have to go” then you may be ignoring complications unbeknownst to you. Eye exams are not just for correcting refractive error (i.e. nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism). An exam may find that you are not seeing as well as you believe, but a vital part of this assessment is to seek out conditions and diseases that are frequently silent. This means symptoms of eye disease go unnoticed or unrecognized.

When you go for an eye exam, your eye specialist will evaluate a number of conditions in a relatively short amount of time. After the doctor checks your visual acuity and your prescription, the doctor will look for a condition known as Amblyopia. Amblyopia occurs when your brain is not communicating with one eye correctly resulting in vision impairment in that one eye. Strabismus (crossed-eyes) can cause Amblyopia. This can lead to impairment in both visual development and life development, especially in adolescents. Eye exams are imperative for children as they are constantly learning their environment and receiving an education at an extremely impressionable age. The last thing any parent wants is hampered development because of troubled vision.

The most important part of your eye exam is the assessment to seek out silent killers known as eye disease. Eye disease is often symptomless in the early stage and untreatable when diagnosed in the later stages. Common diseases include macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy, the leading cause of blindness. This is why getting an eye exam often and early is imperative.

Fortunately, half of all blindness can be prevented. Prevention relies heavily on completion of your annual eye assessments. If conducted, there is a much higher chance that your eye doctor diagnoses an eye disease like diabetic retinopathy in an early stage, which can lead to treatment and prevention of blindness. In some cases, an eye exam could even detect the incidence of diabetes before your general practitioner. According to the American Diabetes Association, African Americans are 1.7 times more likely to have diabetes than non-hispanic whites. This is exceptionally important, especially in Georgia, because according to the 2010 US Census African Americans make up 30% of our entire population. Comprehensive eye exams can be life changing and it is imperative to seek out these diseases before blindness is certain.

The CDC reports that people who take adequate care of their eyes and vision have a lesser chance of heart problems, high blood pressure, strokes, poor hearing, poor development in adolescents, and diabetes. It is imperative to make an appointment every year, not just for eye health but as an indicator for your overall wellbeing. Like Transformers, there’s more than meets the eye.

Could anti-HIV medication could prevent blindness?

Thanks to the visionary research doctors at the University of Kentucky’s Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences’ study on “dry” age-related macular degeneration in mice, has shown a widely-used class of drugs used to treat HIV called NRTIs could prove effective in treating older adults with AMD in the neighborhood of 50 years of age and older.

According to University of Kentucky ophthalmologist vice chair, Dr. Jayakrishna Ambati, in findings during a National Institute of Health-funded (NIH) study, “macular degeneration affects an estimated 50-million people worldwide,” WOW!

AMD is the leading cause of vision loss in people 50 years and older and is more common among Caucasians, people who smoke, or have a family history of the condition. Over time, AMD progressively damages a part of the eye called the macula, which is a light-sensitive part of the eye needed for crisp, clear vision.

Vision loss, to any degree, sounds pretty scary and can negatively impact a person or families.  If untreated, AMD can rob people of their ability to work, drive, read, cook, or even see their children or grandchildren’s faces.

Uses and effectiveness of the drugs are still the laboratory testing phases; however positive results in laboratory mice suggest a bright future for the drugs enhanced uses.

To ensure healthy and clear vision throughout you and your family’s lives, the NIH to discuss your eye health with a physician and to have an eye exam each year.

If you know someone in need of vision care, but cannot afford it, Georgia is home to one of the largest charitable care network in the country.  Charitable organizations like the Georgia Lions Lighthouse Foundation provide sight-saving eye exams, eyeglasses, eye surgeries (e.g. AMD, cataracts, and glaucoma) to undeserved Georgians across the state.

For more information on how to support the Georgia Lions Lighthouse Foundation’s mission to provide vision surgeries to those with AMD, please visit our website to make a donation to help those less fortunate.


September is National Fruit and Veggies-More Matters Month!

Here at the Georgia Lions Lighthouse Foundation we are hard at work to improve the level of independence and freedom by providing sight saving vision surgeries and eyeglasses but I bet you are wondering where a healthy diet and National Fruit and Veggies-More Matter Month comes into the picture.

Did you know that your diet has a huge impact on your vision health? New medical studies have shown that fruits and veggies have a bigger impact on your vision health than you think.

With just about everyone and their mother looking for the next miracle diet, healthy buzzwords like super-foods, antioxidants, beta-carotene and polyphenols, have been have been tossed around like a salad during National Salad month, which is during the month of May– if you were wondering.

These health food buzzwords are part of a family of chemicals found in plant foods like, veggies, fruits, beans and grains, called phytochemicals, which is the common name for a wide variety of plant-produced compounds.

Foods such as kale, broccoli, carrots, spinach, collard greens, and peaches are known to carry certain phytochemicals like beta-carotene and lutine. These naturally occurring chemicals have been shown to promote good eye health, lower risk of cancer and a healthy heart. Studies have shown, eating a balanced diet with these sorts of foods can provide your body with a natural energy boost, help you lose weight and even prevent serious diseases like diabetes or cancer.

So, next time you are at the farmer’s market, community garden or grocery store, an easy way to tell if something is rich in eye-healthy beta-carotene is by color. Try to remember orange and leafy dark veggies–hence Carrots (beta-CAROTENE).

Next time you shop, make sure you keep your eyes in mind, and stock up on those phytochemicals essential to eye health!

Volunteer Spotlight: Gary

“To serve is beautiful, but only if it is done with joy and a whole heart and a free mind.”
-Pearl S. Buck, writer, Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winner

At the Georgia Lions Lighthouse Foundation, this principle is what defines our dedicated volunteers. We are grateful for the tremendous support we have, and we would like to share a little bit about some of the individuals and groups who consistently shown their commitment and dedication to our cause. These people come in with a smile on their face, giving their time to help us help Georgians in need.

One individual is Gary Vaughn. Mr. Vaughn first heard about the Lighthouse Foundation when he came with a church group to clean eyeglasses. His interest in vision care and optometry sparked his desire to continue his involvement in the Lighthouse organization. He has since been coming in every week.

Through his experience, what he has enjoyed the most is the opportunity to do different tasks during each visit. This has included preparing a guide for non-medical mission groups to help them fit glasses, reconditioning and documenting thirty-five eye screening instruments, conducting eye screenings at health fairs, fitting glasses and entering prescriptions at clinics, manning the booth at a community awareness event, reading prescriptions of donated eyeglasses, and replacing bulbs in lighting fixtures around the office.

He feels that his volunteer work here has been rewarding, knowing that he is doing something to help people. He is also glad he can answer the concerns of people in the clinic and in the eye screenings. Mr. Vaughn enjoys working with the staff, and he continues to be a kind and dedicated member of our community.



Connecting the Dots: Hearing Loss and Dementia


Recent studies have indicated a link between hearing loss and dementia. Approximately 48 million Americans have hearing loss, and most have sensorineural hearing loss in which the hair cells in the inner ear are damaged. About one-third to two-thirds of adults ages 70 and older have hearing loss, but only 15% reportedly get hearing aids. Furthermore, about 7 million people in the US have some form of dementia, and numbers are expected to double every 20 years.[1] Dementia includes many diseases of mental decline with Alzheimer’s disease accounting for 60-80%. More than 5 million Americans are affected by Alzheimer’s, and it is the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S.

Continue reading

19 Years Later: A Story of Charity and Thanks

At the age of 25, my lifelong battle against a rare, genetic and brutally painful eye disease finally took its toll and rendered me almost legally blind. My young son, who was just a year old at the time, was also experiencing episodic bouts of pain and severe sensitivity to light which meant he too had inherited the dreaded disease. Each erosion or, scratch across our corneas, occurred for any number of reasons; simply upon opening our eyes from sleep, or a wisp of hair across the eye, or for no known reason at all. Each erosion caused a lattice work pattern of abrasions to appear across the surface of the eye. Each and every time my infant son or I experienced an erosion, we were confined to bed. The extreme photophobias meant those days in bed were spent in utter darkness. Not a candle, not the flicker of a television, not a ray of sunlight could be tolerated. My son was so young that scarring of his cornea had not yet become a concern. The horror of the pain in someone so young? Yes. Blindness not yet. For me though, the recurrent corneal erosions and central corneal clouding had finally disabled me.

I had no insurance, could not allow myself to continue to drive, correcting my vision with glasses was not a reality and faking it at work was out of the question. Between his bouts and mine it was pretty hard to hold down a job for long. On good days when I could see it was a challenge. Without vision at least some of the time, we were done for. I was alone and I was scared. I knew I needed a cornea transplant. My Mother had one with moderate success and an Aunt and Grandfather had also been helped by the operation to some degree. Because I had been dealing with my disease, I mean just living with it and all its consequences as a part of my reality since birth, missing school, losing jobs, learning how to handle pain I did with no doctor I could call on. Continue reading

The Gift of Sound

Richard’s situation is similar to the majority of hearing clients we see at the Lighthouse. The Lighthouse Foundation Hearing Program serves Georgians of all ages; however, most are retired or disabled and living on a fixed income of Social Security and perhaps a little pension. The copayment Richard paid for his hearing aids did not just simply cover the aids themselves; that $170 paid for two custom digital in-the-ear hearing aids, a three year service warranty on those aids, and 4 visits to a Lighthouse partner hearing provider. The application process is simple and the process time takes just a few short weeks. The application and list of required supporting documents can be found on our website or by calling 404-325-3630 (or 800-718-7483 outside of the metro Atlanta area).