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— James Griffin of the Hope Lions Club spoke to the Camden Lions Club Wednesday about the importance of service projects in the civic club, and provided information about diabetic retinopathy to members.

According to literature handed out by Griffin, diabetes can lead to a weakening of blood vessels throughout the body, including the blood vessels at the back of the eye.

This condition is called diabetic retinopathy.

Ultimately, this can lead to blindness.

Poorly controlled blood sugar, smoking, and high cholesterol can all increase the risk of diabetes.

Hispanic and African Americans are at greater risk for developing diabetic retinopathy.

Fortunately tele-retinal imaging machines can provide early detection.

The screening can also detect other threats such as glaucoma, retinal detachment or tumors.

Thanks in part to area Lions Clubs machines can now be found at UAMS Family Medical Centers in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Batesville, Jonesboro, Helena, Pine Bluff, Magnolia and Texarkana.

Additionally some facts about diabetic retinopathy are:

• Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in adults

• One of out every three diabetes patients develops diabetic retinopathy

• Early symptoms may go unnoticed because vision loss is gradual

• Screenings lead to early diagnosis and treatment

• Untreated damage can cause permanent vision loss and blindness.

Griffin then talked about some of the programs the Camden Lions Club has implemented such as the annual Distinguished Service Awards which highlight members of the community that have contributed to the overall well being of the area; the bike program which partners with industries and individuals to gather bikes for children for Christmas; and the diabetes screening program, which is part of Lions Club agenda to fight diabetes.

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