Special Olympics
Washington, DC, USA
Location: Washington, DC, USA

Helping Athletes Succeed in the Games and Life

“We have never had a more significant partnership in the history of Special Olympics than the partnership we have today with the Lions Clubs.” –Dr. Timothy Shriver, Chairman & CEO of Special Olympics International

Serving an overlooked group

Among Special Olympics athletes, 68 percent have not had an eye examination in three years, 37 percent are in need of eyeglasses and 18 percent wear clinically incorrect eyeglasses. Untreated vision problems add to the challenges of this population whose needs are often overlooked. Lions and Special Olympics International have been working together since 2001 to address these problems and help Special Olympics overcome vision impairment, through the Opening Eyes program. To support this program, LCIF has contributed more than US$13.3 million in Core 4 grant funding.

The Lions Clubs International-Special Olympics Opening Eyes program ensures that vision screenings are part of select Special Olympics sporting events worldwide. More than 16,000 volunteer Lions and more than 10,000 trained doctors have played an integral part in the success of the program, helping with registration, color vision testing and visual acuity tests. The Special Olympics Opening Eyes program provides life-changing clinical intervention through the provision of prescription eyeglasses and protective sports goggles, while also helping those athletes with more urgent eye care needs receive a referral to an eye care specialist in their community.

A true hands-on effort

Through Opening Eyes, Lions and Special Olympics volunteers have worked side-by-side to screen more than 300,000 athletes and provide prescription eyewear to nearly 100,000 athletes. The partnership is also strengthened significantly through the support of optic industry leaders, Essilor International and Safilo, SpA. 

Opening Eyes has been able to improve the lives of millions of courageous athletes, and LCIF remains dedicated to this meaningful partnership. “Lions Clubs’ commitment to our athletes and their health needs has been nothing short of phenomenal, and we look forward to doing even more to help people with intellectual disabilities in the years to come,” said Dr. Timothy Shriver.