Vision health is one of the primary missions of the Smith Mountain Lake Lions Club and Lions Clubs International. 

The student vision screening program of the SML Lions Club started with Lions member and Franklin County School Superintendent Leonard Gereau in 1988. Since that date the Club has provided vision screening to pre-school, elementary school, middle school and high school students at the beginning of each school year.

Today the Lions Club provides screening with both visual acuity and photo refraction operating systems. Vision screening is part of a student health requirement in the state of Virginia.

The objective of the screening process is to identify students who potentially have less-than-adequate vision capability to facilitate their learning experience. Students identified with potential vision issues are referred to the school nurse, who will then communicate with parents, suggesting they seek professional vision attention and correction of their child’s vision issues. 

Typically, 3,500 students are screened each school year with around 35 club members involved in the screening program. With more than 30 years of involvement in the program, that amounts to more than 100,000 screenings performed by the Lions Club to date.

“This Lions Club program has been successful because of the significant collaboration between the Franklin County School administration, the nursing leadership and the school nursing staffs,” the Lions Club stated.

On the Lions Club side, the program leadership started with Len Gereau followed by Rick Bonan, Jim Chambers, Ray Lenco, Bill Timmons, Tom Merriman, Ray Holt, Lowell Skelton and Gene Singer. 

“When school starts each fall, SML Lions Club members look forward to returning to the county schools and associating with the students,” the Lions Club stated. “Our members are not only happy to provide the eye health service but thoroughly enjoy the time with the young students, nursing staff and administration.”

Beyond the public schools, the SML Lions Club has also provided vision screening services to home school students, private schools, diabetic children, county employees and community health fairs. 

“Technology will be changing the process of vision screening, and the SML Lions Club will continue to provide the best possible service to our schools and community,” the Lions Club stated.

Read more stories in the current issue of the Smith Mountain Eagle newspaper. Pick up a copy or subscribe at to view articles in the print and/or e-edition version.

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