the sage connection

Unique low-vision clinic serves Thurston County residents

The west coast's only such clinic is just one of several ongoing programs of the Olympia Host Lions Club.


Did you know that the only low-vision clinic on the west coast that offers free vision-aid equipment and referrals is right here in Thurston County?

It's the Corbin Low Vision Resource Clinic, operated by the Olympia Host Lions Club.  And it's operated by volunteer Lions.  All of the money raised from the public by Olympia Host Lions is returned to the public, through service projects and donations to help those in need.

For 85 years the Olympia Host Lions Club has served the Olympia community with annual vision and hearing tests for approximately 2,700 school-aged children, as well as feeding the hungry and supporting various community projects. 

Client Jean Cook said about the clinic, “I saw what was there and was absolutely dumbfounded with what was available”.

One of the former club presidents, Carl Corbin, started the Low Vision Resource Center (LVRC) and rallied the club to support the program, which was later named for him. Realtor Carolyn Graden was club president for two years and arranged for its low-rent facility. New member Paul Swanda is now the LVRC coordinator and they have continued to serve the low vision community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Adding to our community support is Olympia optometrist, Dr. Mary Ferris, who donates her time to train Lion volunteers on equipment and referral information. Panowicz Jewelers have shown their support by donating the replacement and installation of new batteries for the talking watches the clinic makes available to its clients.

Those who qualify can receive referrals for free eye examinations and glasses. Pins that can be worn alerting others to hearing or sight loss are sold for a minimum fee.

According to the report for the 2017 National Health Interview Survey, 26.9 million adult Americans 18 and older reported experiencing vision loss. Of these 26.9 million American adults, 16.4 million women and 10.5 million men, report experiencing significant vision loss. With the graying of America, low-vision problems have grown tremendously and will likely continue to do so.

Although the LVRC serves all ages, the senior population provides the largest number of those in need of these services.

While there is no charge for the equipment, or income limits, donations are gratefully accepted to help obtain upgraded equipment, repair existing vision aids and visual additions to their inventory, so no one is turned away due to lack of equipment. All administrative costs are paid by the Lions themselves.

When the equipment is no longer needed or vision equipment is donated, an Olympia Host Lions Club volunteers will pick it up.

Any Thurston county resident is eligible for these services. Donations can be mailed to Olympia Host Lions Club Corbin Low Vision Resource Center, P.O. Box 416, Olympia WA, 98507. The Olympia Host Lions Club is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and donations are tax deductible.

Appointments to visit the Corbin Low Vision Center or to find out how to become a Lion member can be made by calling 360-790-8667. 

Kathleen Anderson, herself a "proud Lion" writes this column each week.  Contact her at or post your comment below. 


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