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Lions Club distributes eyeglasses in Mexico

November 22, 2016 GMT

If you ever wondered what happens to the eyeglasses you donate to the Lions Clubs’ collection boxes, some Roseburg Lions members can tell you exactly where they go.

Several members of Lions Clubs from around Oregon, including three from Douglas County, recently returned from a 10-day trip to Mexico where they distributed the eyeglasses that were collected by the clubs. They gave out 2,200 glasses to the needy, and they could have given out a lot more, if they had had the time.

Roseburg optometrist Dr. Steve Tronnes and his wife Mary, and Roseburg Lions Club member Dennis Acton made the trip.

The group left on Nov. 2. They spent 10 days in the town of Manzanillo, about 150 miles south of Puerto Vallarta.

The annual trip was started by a couple in Portland 16 years ago. The couple are from Mexico, but are Portland residents. They plan an early November trip to a different poverty-stricken area each year to take care of sight needs.

Tronnes said usually 30 to 40 people make the trip with half from Canada and half from the U.S.

“There’s just a lot of need everywhere,” said Tronnes.

“We do vision screening, blood pressure and blood sugar for about 2,200 people,” he said.

Tronnes said there is a high percentage of the people in that area who have high blood sugar.

“It’s about 10 percent, and some of them don’t even know they have diabetes,” he said.

Tronnes said the group actually had to cut off services every day, with people still waiting to be seen.

Eyeglasses are dispensed to the patients who are seen. Sunglasses and reading glasses are also distributed.

The Lions also gave 38 mobility canes to blind people to help them learn to get around in everyday life.

Tronnes said the glasses go from the Lions’ barrels to the Coffee Creek Correctional facility, a women’s prison near Salem. Women who want to be part of the training program to become opticians then clean and repair the glasses, and catalogue and label them. The glasses are then given to the Oregon Lions Sight and Hearing Foundation.

Tronnes said the Oregon group took about 8,000 pairs of glasses to Mexico. Whatever they have left over, they leave for the local Lions Club to distribute.

This is the fifth trip for Tronnes and his wife, who got involved with the Lions Club because of their connection to sight restoration and preservation. He said it was a very successful trip.