Updated: May 28, 2013 6:44PM
ELGIN — Deafness has no respect of age, wealth or rank. It strikes people of all economic, social and age categories with equal frequency. The same can be said about vision problems for people with diabetes or those at risk for diabetes.
To help protect the public through an early alert system, and to increase public awareness of hearing and vision problems, the Lions Clubs of Illinois every year sponsor free hearing and retinopathy screenings for persons 18 and older, and 10 to 17 with written parental consent, in communities all over the state.
As part of the program, the Elgin Lions Club will sponsor screenings from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday at Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin.
Hearing loss is probably the single most common chronic disability in the United States, occurring nearly four times as often as blindness, according to a release from the Lions Club. There are nearly 720,000 hearing-impaired persons in Illinois alone. Of these, 106,000 are deaf, 26,000 of these were deaf before the age of 19.
Unfortunately, the problem is made worse since the deaf are least understood of all handicapped populations, the release said.
“For years,” said Elgin Lions Club president Bill Klawitter, “many associated deafness with stupidity even though deaf and hearing-impaired people have IQs equal to those of the hearing population. The deaf have shown to be just as qualified as the hearing for job opportunities. They should be shown, and deserve, every consideration.”
The quality of life for people with diabetic retinopathy and other retinal disorders, such as macular degeneration, is dramatically impacted.
Since early detection of such disorders is critical, persons with diabetes or those 55 or older are encouraged to take advantage of this free screening, the release said.
It noted that hearing loss takes many forms. In some, the problem is simply that sufferers feel as if the sound has been turned down, but others may have trouble in understanding various pitches of sounds. The causes may vary, and there are many medical and mechanical treatments to help people with hearing problems.
“Since protection of our hearing is so important, we hope that the people of our community will take full advantage of the hearing screenings,” said Elgin Lions Club hearing chairman Ed Bates.
“The screenings take but a few minutes, and persons who fail the screening are referred to hearing professionals for further evaluation and treatment.”
The Mobile Hearing and Diabetic Retinopathy screening is conducted through cooperation of the Elgin Lions Club and the Lions of Illinois Foundation, the charitable arm of the state’s more than 700 Lions Clubs.
It is funded primarily from Candy Day, which is held statewide in October.