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Opening Eyes

Opening Eyes is changing lives in communities across the globe, providing free eye assessments, prescription eyewear, sunglasses and sports goggles to people with intellectual disabilities.


opening eyes

The Special Olympics-Lions Clubs International Opening Eyes program is a vision and eye health screening in partnership with the Lions Clubs International Foundation. Led by volunteer vision care professionals, Opening Eyes is able to offer prescription eyewear, sunglasses, and sports goggles to Special Olympics athletes.

For more information, contact Bjoern Koehler, Manager, Opening Eyes.


Opening Eyes News and Stories


March 15, 2017 | Asia Pacific: Philippines

Improving Lives by Improving Sight in Manila, Austria and Beyond

By Niamh M.

Brina and Sashi at the event in Manila

"Disability is not an inability to have a better life. That’s what we want to show,” says Special Olympics athlete and Global Youth Leader Brina Maxino. Brina and her Unified Partner Isabela “Sashi” Montana were the driving force behind the “Eye Can Play: A Healthy Eyeffair” event, sponsored andView Story "Disability is not an inability to have a better life. That’s what we want to show,” says Special Olympics athlete and Global Youth Leader Brina Maxino. Brina and her Unified Partner Isabela “Sashi” Montana were the driving force behind the “Eye Can Play: A Healthy Eyeffair” event, sponsored and supported by Essilor Phillipines, Brina’s explained their goal was an event “based on the “Opening Eyes” program of Special Olympics that is fun and entertaining, like a fair and a carnival.” Sashi added: “We thought of this project to promote the importance of clear vision – both literally and figuratively.” Essilor Philippines provided a vision screening booth that catered to all participants, with Essilor employees providing volunteer expertise. Essilor employees will be volunteering again at the Special Olympics Winter World Games in Austria, with an expected 2000 vision screenings to take place at the Games.

About Niamh M. :Niamh works in the Dublin offices of Special Olympics Europe Eurasia.
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March 12, 2017 | North America: Nebraska

An Athlete Leader and An Athlete Health Leader

By Jason Gieschen

“Special Olympics has helped me overcome my biggest challenge of being told that I cannot do anything and that I cannot be independent. You can achieve anything you set your mind to. Don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t do it! Special Olympics is changing my life,” says Jason.

As a Global Messenger and leader, I am excited to share a positive message about health to my teammates and the world.View Story As a Global Messenger and leader, I am excited to share a positive message about health to my teammates and the world. Special Olympics offers more than just sports. Special Olympics offers Healthy Athletes, which are health exams that are free to the athletes in seven different areas. Six years ago, Special Olympics-Lions Clubs International Opening Eyes discovered a cyst on my eye. I had eye surgery and it saved the sight in that eye. I got new sports glasses too. Also, Dr. Westerman, my local clinical director in Nebraska, told me I needed to get my wisdom teeth pulled. Wisdom teeth don’t make you smart—they just make your jaw hurt. Healthy Habits has helped me to eat the right foods and to drink water instead of pop. I lost 100 pounds. Playing sports has helped too!

About Jason Gieschen:Jason Gieschen, a Sargent Shriver International Global Messenger, has participated in Special Olympics since the age of 14 after being encouraged by his High School principal to attend a local bowling practice and from there on, he has been actively engaged in 11 different sports. In his role as an International Global Messenger, he discusses the role of health in his life. He will also be traveling to Austria for the 2017 World Winter Games and to Seattle, Washington, in 2018 for Special Olympics USA Games. Jason also attended the 2015 World Games in Los Angeles. In addition to his role as an International Global Messenger and Special Olympics athlete leader, Jason leads a very active life outside of sports and is able to make friends wherever he goes. He works full time at an Educational Service Unit as a Documentation coordinator and is an active public speaker when he is not at work. He is also a talented photographer with a keen eye for taking capturing landscape pictures. Jason
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February 02, 2017 | Africa: Senegal

Africa Football Match Raises Awareness for Special Olympics Health

By Annemarie Hill

Athletes played unified to raise awareness for universal access to life-saving vaccinations.

Thousands of cheering fans witnessed Special Olympics athletes playing a prominent role in the Afrivac Foundation’s inaugural historic Gala Football Match in Senegal in December 2016. The match was held to help raise the importance of universal access to vaccinations, a cause closely linked to HealtView Story Thousands of cheering fans witnessed Special Olympics athletes playing a prominent role in the Afrivac Foundation’s inaugural historic Gala Football Match in Senegal in December 2016. The match was held to help raise the importance of universal access to vaccinations, a cause closely linked to Healthy Communities as Special Olympics strives to make all health initiatives, including disease prevention measures, inclusive of individuals with intellectual disabilities. In a display of inclusive sport, two Special Olympics Unified football teams each comprising equal numbers of youth with and without intellectual disabilities played together in a highly competitive match. Special Olympics Partner Lions Club International also lent support, as members served as ball boys and cheered on the athletes.

About Annemarie Hill:I am Senior Director, Global Development & Government Relations, Special Olympics International.
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