Lions bring eye-care services to those in need in Tonopah

For Alice Fox, the opportunity to get free vision screening and the chance for a new set of eyeglasses is “fantastic and wonderful.”

The 77-year-old Tonopah resident uses a wheelchair, is on a fixed income, and her glasses are broken.

“My trouble is that I’m on Social Security, and that money goes for utilities and at times it’s not enough,” she said.

Fox is among the Tonopah residents who took part in the free vision screening program sponsored by the Lions Club earlier this month.

Organizers brought in special equipment to Tonopah so that local residents could get their eyes checked at no charge in the public health nurse’s office.

The vision screening can help link residents with everything from new glasses to cataract and retina care and other specialty services such as glaucoma treatment, said Beth Ennis, public health nurse in Tonopah.

She describes the Lions’ services as invaluable for residents.

“No eye doctor is here,” Ennis said. “Many people don’t have the insurance to pay for glasses. This is tremendous.”

How it works

Through the Lions’ program, people get on the path toward the eye care they need.

“We don’t give any advice,” said Bob Knipes, a Las Vegas resident with the statewide Lions Club in Nevada. “If we see bad results, we give them (patients) the results and tell them to take it to an optometrist or an ophthalmologist.”

The Lions did not bring those type of eye specialists to Tonopah. But through the Lions’ efforts, patients are put in touch with out-of-town specialists for treatment.

“If they (ophthalmologists) can do the surgery locally (in Las Vegas), he or she will,” Knipes said. “If they can’t, we send them (patients) to Oakland where we have one of the largest and best eye-care clinics on the West Coast.”

Covering costs

The out-of-town optometrists and ophthalmologists donate their services while the Lions pay for the operating room, Knipes said.

He and another Lions representative from Mesquite, Nevada led the eight hours of free vision screening in Tonopah on March 21. Another stop was planned the following day in Beatty.

“We try and help these communities that don’t have the eye-care specialists in them,” Knipes said, naming communities such as Amargosa Valley, Alamo and Caliente.

“Next month we’re going to Panaca and doing all of the elementary school children,” he said.

Fox, an elderly Tonopah resident, said the Lions’ services are “well worth it.”

“We don’t have anything like that,” she said.

Contact reporter David Jacobs at

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